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What is “Digital Arrest”? MHA Releases Advisory; DoT Urges Public to Disregard Fraudulent Calls

New Delhi : Amid a rise in the ‘Digital Arrest’ trend, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued a warning to police departments across states and Union Territories. This novel cybercrime tactic involves impostors posing as law enforcement officers, coercing victims with threats of arrest and prosecution to extort money.

What constitutes a ‘Digital Arrest’?
‘Digital Arrest’ is an innovative scheme employed by cybercriminals to deceive unsuspecting victims and extract money from them. In this method, fraudsters impersonate law enforcement officials such as police, the Enforcement Directorate, or the CBI, convincing victims that they’ve committed a serious offense.

The perpetrators manipulate victims into believing they’ve been digitally arrested and will face prosecution unless they pay a significant sum of money. Cybercrime experts highlight that fear and urgency are exploited to ensure victims comply before realizing it’s a scam.

These cybercriminals often coerce victims into self-arrest or self-quarantine by convincing them they’re under ‘digital arrest’ and cannot leave their homes without payment.

MHA Alert
Meanwhile, the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C), under the MHA, has issued alerts to police forces nationwide due to the surge in digital arrest cases.

According to an official statement, the MHA warned that criminals are defrauding individuals by posing as officials from central agencies like the ED, CBI, and RBI.

The MHA’s I4C has blocked over 1,000 Skype IDs linked to these cases and is in the process of blocking numerous SIM cards used in fraud.

“In recent months, several instances of fraud involving fake CBI, ED, and NCB officers have been reported to the MHA’s I4C wing,” stated the Home Ministry, noting the increase in complaints on the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (NCRP), prompting swift action.

The MHA highlighted collaboration with other ministries and agencies, including the RBI, to counter this concerning trend.

Furthermore, the MHA noted the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) by cybercriminals to intimidate victims by mimicking the voices of their relatives, aiming to extort money.

The MHA’s cyber wing has established a helpline (1930) for reporting such cases and obtaining further information on this new form of cybercrime.

DoT Advisory
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) also issued an advisory amidst rising cyber fraud cases, urging the public to ignore fake phone calls. The DoT cautioned that fraudsters often threaten to disconnect mobile numbers or falsely claim misuse, exposing victims to extortion.

The DoT previously warned about WhatsApp calls originating from foreign numbers, impersonating government officials to deceive and defraud people.

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