The first question that most victims of cybercrimes have is “Will we get our money back?”. “Cyber criminals swindled around Rs 65 crore during the first six months of 2023, but due to timely action by the victims and the police around Rs 17 crore (26 per cent) was recovered from cyber thieves and of this, around Rs 65 lakh was paid to the victims from January 1 to June 30 this year. ” said the Home Minister of Karnataka in the House. What this means is that it is not easy to get money your back, but it is also not impossible. The second most common question that victims of cybercrimes have is “How to get out of cyber criminal’s blackmail or intimidation or sextortion threats?”
For these two questions, I will bring to you two real life incidents with real-life happy endings for each question asked above from my short experience as a cybermithra. My main purpose in this is to let the victims of cyber crimes know that if you follow all the steps suggested by police or in my cybermithra articles as soon as possible from the time of incident, you too can find a happy ending to your situation with some luck going your way.
A retired bank employee from Mysore gets a call on one saturday, the profile photo of the caller had the bank’s logo and in the call he gives out some basic information about the bank account and person correctly and then suggests that some KYC updates are pending and to prevent the account from getting blocked it needs to be updated and he can help in completing the update on the call. He asks for debit card details and then asks for OTP to complete the update. Later, only after seeing a message that Rs 1 lakh has been debited from their account, She come to know that they had become victims of Impersonation and Social Engineering cyber crimes . She immediately call cyber helpline number 1930 and file a complaint and also call the bank to block the account and the debit card, at a later date she filled the insurance forms in the bank and got entire money back into the account within a few days.
A woman in Bengaluru receives a sms, which says “Your electricity connection will be disconnected from today due to pending charges, call this number for rectification”. When she called that number, the person at the other end says that there is a balance of 15 rupees, if you pay immediately you can avoid the disconnection, and tells them to install a remote control app to help them in the payment and also provides a hyperlink to pay. She installs that app and uses her internet banking to pay on the website opened through the hyperlink, later when she gets a message that instead of 75000 rupees has been debited from her account instead of just 15 rupees, she comes to know that she had become a victim of Impersonation and Social Engineering cybercrime. She immediately uninstalls the app, calls cyber helpline number 1930 and files a complaint and also calls the bank to block the account, then later files an FIR at the nearest police station. Police investigation reveals that money was credited to a user account of an Uttar Pradesh power company, and when the account owner is questioned, he panics and calls the woman and returns the entire amount.
A young chartered accountant from Mumbai meets a young woman on a matrimonial website and they both exchange WhatsApp numbers. In the first call itself, the girl says let’s do a video call and starts removing her clothes at the start of the video call itself, the perplexed guy immediately cuts the call. Then the very next day he starts getting sextortion calls. He gets scared but does not panic, instead calls Cyber Helpline number 1930 and lodges a complaint and also approached me. He politely refuses their threatening messages and calls as suggested, after a few days these threatening calls and messages stop by themselves. These type of cybercriminals will be performing similar kind of frauds on many unsuspecting victims and most of the time they are looking for easy money and a victim who gets scared easily and imparts such money and they continue to threaten and loot him in various forms till he yields, if someone ignores them or takes police help then they usually stop calling or pestering them and almost always dont send the morphed images to friends or relatives as threatened.
A photographer from Mysore takes a 10-day loan of Rs 15,000 from a Chinese loan app in his tough times, and on the 8th day itself he starts getting multiple calls to pay back the full amount. Fed up of their calls, he pays the full amount on the 9th day itself but the calls don’t stop and they start threatening him to pay more money as some charges else they will share his fake nude images to his friends and relatives on social media. He calls Cyber Helpline 1930 and lodges a complaint and he too politely refuses their threatening messages and calls as suggested, after a few days these threatening calls and messages stop by themselves. Read my previous column to know more about this chinese loan app cyber crime.
Here are the 3 things above cybercrime victims did wrongly and rightly each :-
- They ignored the golden principle that “for all digital transactions, the principle of ‘Patience, Zero Trust and No Authentication’ is to be followed”.
- Installed software that a stranger recommended and clicked on a hyperlink.
- Before giving OTPs to strangers, did not read what the OTP is for.
- Immediately they called 1930 cyber helpline or logged on to cybermithra.gov.in and filed a complaint.
- Calling the relevant bank and blocking the account and lodging a complaint.
- Did not panic , discussed with the concerned police and lawyers about sextortion or threats and followed their suggestions.