A surge of offences reported in 2018, especially diversion of funds from bank accounts through password theft, has inundated the sole cyber crime police station in India’s technology capital Bengaluru, leaving one officer of the rank of an inspector in charge of investigations of nearly 5,000 cases.
Records show that the cyber crime police station in Bengaluru, established in 2017 as a central point for registration of cyber complaints, has logged 4,714 cases as of December 14 this year.
As cyber frauds involving the theft of small amounts of money increase with the spread of technology, senior officers estimate that the total is likely to cross 5,000 cases by the year-end, involving the loss of over Rs 10 crore, and double by the end of 2019. Under the deluge of complaints, this station, which operates with one inspector and a sub-inspector working with 18 staff members, has been able to investigate only around 100 of the cases registered so far. A regular police station in Bengaluru registers an average of around 300 cases a year, records show.
Records show that an average of 400 cases a month and 13 a day are being registered at the cyber crime station at present. In 2017, the station registered a total of 2,032 cases falling mostly under section 66(c), which relates to fraudulent use of passwords, and 66 (D), which covers online cheating, of the Information Technology Act 2000 — and section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code.
Bengaluru Police are now trying several new means to address the flurry of cases being reported, including a proposal for eight new cyber crime stations, a social media campaign to create awareness about online frauds, deployment of more inspectors and classification of small cyber frauds as lesser crimes.
“We are able to investigate only about 100 of the cases registered at the cyber crime police station in a year with the 20 personnel available at present. A proposal has been sent to the government for creation of eight more cyber police stations in Bengaluru,” said DCP (Crime) S Girish, under whose purview the lone cyber crime police station operates.
Cyber crime police have been able to crack cases, such as the accessing of UIDAI data without authorisation by an IIT Kharagpur graduate, and cracked down on crypto currency operators for alleged fraud. However, the majority of cases involving theft of bank account pin numbers and passwords to swipe amounts ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 25 lakh, phishing frauds and fake sale of goods on online forums, remain in limbo.
“At present, one police officer is handling nearly 5,000 cases. We need at least one officer to be in charge of a hundred cases for effective investigations to take place. This means that at least 50 officers need to be deployed to investigate cyber crime cases,’’ said a senior police officer associated with developing cyber crime fighting resources and technology in Karnataka.