With cybercrimes on the rise amid the lockdown, police stations in Western Uttar Pradesh are being trained for swifter disposal of complaints. The UP Police is carrying out digital literacy programmes in eight districts within the Agra Zone so that cyber complaints can be resolved at the police station level.
From banks to social media organisations, local police, apart from the Cyber Cell, will be able to directly write to representatives of organisations depending upon the nature of the crime. To facilitate this, a list of representatives from Twitter, Facebook and other app and website-based organisations has been passed on to police stations in the eight districts.
“A general trend has been observed that there is an increase in cyber crimes as Covid lockdowns came into effect. There are many victims of phishing, fraud, impersonation and several other cyber offences. Many such crimes can be resolved very quickly if one knows who to approach and when. Hence we are organising workshops so that the police stations themselves can write to respective companies and approach such offences more effectively,” said Rajiv Krishna, ADG Zone Agra.
The police in Agra Zone have tied up with Cyberpeace Foundation, a civil society organisation working on cybersecurity, to hold training workshops over a period of several weeks which will conclude by July. So far, five such training sessions have been held for officials in Aligarh, Agra, Mathura, Firozabad, Mainpuri, Eta, Hathras and Kasganj.
In the sessions, police officials are made aware of first response techniques in the matter of cyber frauds. In cases of financial fraud, the police can immediately contact the banks to freeze operations till the investigation is concluded, which can safeguard the victim’s money. In cases pertaining to abuse, threat, impersonation on social media, timely intervention can lead to the identification of the accused, said police.
Till June 17 this year, the eight districts reported a total of 4,840 cyber-related complaints with 2,987 having been filed offline. The maximum complaints are filed for phishing, UPI fraud and impersonation/fake profiles. In 2020, nearly 8300 cyber complaints were filed in Agra Zone, police said. The data so far suggests a 20% increase in cybercrimes and the lockdown can be attributed to an important factor, police said.
In case a victim seeks an offline FIR, the investigating officer can prepare a report highlighting the action that needs to be taken in the respective department. A Nodal Officer has been appointed for each of the eight districts who will review the report and send an official mail on behalf of the police.
“There is a general lack of awareness with regards to cyber fraud. Many people are not aware of some very basic tools that can either reverse a criminal transaction or resolve it. The idea is to make the local police station a one stop solution for cyber crime complaints,” said Krishna.
The police have divided cybercrimes into three sections- T1, T2 and T3. The first category consists of phishing, financial crimes, cheating, job and matrimonial fraud. The T2 classification describes fake profiles, hacking, ID theft, cyberbullying, stalking and sexting crimes. In T3, police have listed cases related to damage to computers, e-mail hacking, gambling, ransomware, cyber terrorism, cryptocurrency fraud, data breach and provocative speech.