NEW DELHI: As Jamtara in Jharkhand and Rohtak in Haryana emerge as hubs of cyber and phone frauds, with the countrywide case averaging at 10,000-12,000 a month, the Union home ministry has taken the lead in ensuring crackdown by state police against cyber crooks. If latest reports are to be believed, the frequent raids by state police over the past few months have seen many phone scamsters land in their net, even as others were forced to shift to neighbouring districts.
“The Jharkhand police, on being advised by the home ministry to rein in cyber criminals operating out of Jamtara, have not only identified them but also made a good number of arrests over the past couple of months. Many criminals are now operating out of neighbouring districts. A dedicated team of Jharkhand police is keeping an eye on phone fraudsters and taking action where needed. Similarly, with pockets of Bihar and Rohtak range also identified as phone fraud hubs, the concerned state police have been alerted and a crackdown initiated,” an officer told TOI hours after Union home minister Rajnath Singh chaired a high-level meeting on phone and e-wallet frauds here on Monday. The meeting was attended by senior officials of the home ministry, ministry of electronics and information technology (MEITY), telecom ministry, banking sector, Intelligence Bureau, Delhi police and Jharkhand police.
The need to have a strategy to tackle phone frauds stems from home ministry’s concern over the exponential increase in such crimes. Even though the individual amounts lost or swindled are small and many cases go unreported, the fact that these affect the common man including the poor, has made the ministry look for ways to track such fraud, fix accountability and devise a system that offers a secure payment gateway. This was the second meeting on phone and e-wallet frauds, the last one being in September that led RBI to issue a circular dated October 11 that, among other things, put a Rs 10,000 cap on a single e-wallet transaction.
Some security solutions discussed at Monday’s meeting included making e-wallet companies maintain metadata comprising archival information on transactions, ensuring that they share data with a designated central agency, making SMS alerts mandatory for all transactions and ensuring that the e-wallet company maintains consumer data along with aadhaar seeding.
An important suggestion that came up was building an element of insurance into e-wallet, digital and phone banking transactions to cover e-payment frauds. The need to have a Banking Payments Settelment law to fix responsibility and a possible time-lag between payment and realisation was also discusssed. A internet protocol upgrade to IP6 was suggested to ensure more secure e-payments. An inherent problem in RuPay cards was brought up, which was attributed to weak adherence to know-your-customer norms.
According to a home ministry source, IIT-Delhi has been roped in to prepare an algorithm to enable data analytics such as which kind of accounts are more vulnerable to phone and e-wallet frauds. “They have been asked to develop filters to identify and segregate account numbers and holders of accounts who have been victims of e-payments fraud,” said the officer.