UPI fraud to sextortion, shocking rise in Cybercrime! Know how HP is dealing with this threat

India is being applauded for following a path of digitalization and introducing the revolutionary digital payment mode UPI. However, digitalization has also led to some serious UPI fraud and crimes. In a concerning trend, Himachal Pradesh has seen a shocking surge in cybercrime complaints. Officials have reported at least one complaint every hour which includes cases of UPI fraud, job fraud, sextortion, and blackmailing. Know what officials have reported about these cybercrime cases.

Staggering surge in cybercrime

According to a report by PTI, from January to October 2022, the state recorded 4,593 complaints, which escalated to a startling 8,152 in the same period in 2023. Financial frauds, social networking issues, and miscellaneous complaints witnessed a 77% increase, with Mandi, Kangra, and Shimla emerging as the primary targets, as per police data.

The breakdown of cybercrime categories reveals alarming spikes in specific areas. Unified Payments Interface (UPI) frauds skyrocketed from 436 to 1,145, job frauds surged from 234 to 600, sextortion and blackmailing cases rose from 162 to 199, and incidents of fake or hacked social media accounts increased from 706 to 1,314. Officials reported that apart from the financial frauds, there has also been a surge in cybercrime against women in the form of blackmailing and threatening, stalking, defamation, morphing, fake profile, and internet crime through online gaming and sextortion which targets older wealthy men.

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Superintendent of Police Bhupinder Negi says that this surge is not only due to an increase in cybercrime but also because of an increase in awareness. Large-scale awareness campaigns, particularly targeting the youth, have encouraged more people to come forward and file complaints. SP (Cyber Crime) Rohit Malpani stated “We are receiving one cyber complaint every hour. The number of FIRs has increased from 11 (till October) in 2022 to 69 in the same period in 2023.

In response to this surge, the state government has established three cyber police stations in Shimla, Mandi, and Dharamshala. Director General of Police Sanjay Kundu said that Cybercrime is a borderless crime and it is affecting everyone. He said that capacity-building efforts are underway to ensure that 100 percent of police personnel are trained in cybercrime investigation.

According to the report, in 2023, the complaints related to financial frauds accounted for about 64 percent (5178), social networking complaints for 23 percent (1901) and miscellaneous complaints for 13 percent (1073). The state is working to overcome these challenges, investing in the latest technology equipment for investigations.

The latest technology equipments have been purchased by the government which includes call detail record (CDR) analyser, mobile forensic tool, disc forensic software, video forensic software, and disk managing kit for further investigation.

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