An FIR has been lodged against an unknown online scammer by Indian police as the person has illegally claimed to be selling the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue, the world’s largest statue, for $4 billion this week.
The scammer also claimed that the proposed sale was aimed at helping and funding the Gujarat state government to fight against the coronavirus pandemic. With the ongoing national lockdown, cybercrimes across the globe have sharply increased and posed a threat in the government’s attempts in fighting the virus outbreak.
Cybercrime Surge in India
With the national lockdown, which forced 1.3 billion people of India to stay indoors, the rate of cybercrimes in the country has rapidly increased. The federal home ministry officials stated that there has been a 86% percent rise in cybercrime in the past four weeks including scams ranging from free mobile recharges, to offers of free Netflix subscriptions.
In a most bizarre move, the Indian police have filed an FIR against an online fraudster who claimed to sell the world’s largest statue also known as ‘Statue of Unity’, a monument that is near twice the height of New York’s Statue of Liberty.
Moreover, police and internal security officials also disclosed that scammers have created fake versions of the flagship ‘PM CARES Fund’ payments interface, which was created by the Modi Government to receive donations for fighting the COVID-19 epidemic.
Such a deceptively similar online interface has caused hardship to the government and many Indians and Non-Residents Indians (NRIs) became the prey from this malicious activity. Citing that the retrieval process was a complex task, a senior home ministry official, stated, “We have received over 8,300 complaints from individuals across India and NRIs who have donated thousands of dollars into fake accounts.”
Measures for Preventing Cybercrimes
Dilip Asbe, the CEO of National Payments Corporation of India, an umbrella organization for retail payments, stated, “We have already blocked all handles with permutations and combinations of the ‘PM Cares Fund’ that were illegitimate and we are being watchful and ensuring that the handles for donations get verified.”
Police also have registered cases against the scammers who circulated fake offers mentioning heavy discounts of the companies including Reliance Industries telecom arm, Jio and streaming service Netflix Inc. Nevertheless, officials at Netflix and Jio declined to comment on the matter.
The technology arm of Reserve Bank of India, CERT-In, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, and ReBIT, has recently issued warning notices about online threats and scams and asked financial institutions to stay alert.
Nitin Bhatnagar, a senior official at PCI Security Standards Council, a global standards body for the payment card industry, explained, “The US Secret Service has also warned nations that during a time of uncertainty and increased online activity, cybercriminals are actively working to exploit the current COVID-19 story with attacks aimed at taking advantage of the situation.”
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