| Bengaluru |
Nov. 23, 2020, 4:29 a.m.
On September 15, a senior IPS officer in Karnataka, P Harishekharan, filed a complaint with a CID Cybercrime Police Station in Bangalore, claiming that someone had created a fake Facebook profile with his name and photos and was looking for funds from his friends.
A day later, CID Deputy Police Superintendent Mr. H. Nagthe filed a similar complaint.
On October 5, another CID DSP, Prakash Rathod, filed a complaint that a friend of his friend donated money after being approached by a fake Facebook account on behalf of the DSP.
Investigations into more than a dozen similar complaints filed by police officers in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana led the Karnataka CID cybercriminal unit to an organized cybercrime network operating mainly from Bharatpur and other regions of Rajasthan.
The network of carriers – including a mobile phone SIM card retailer and distributor – had created hundreds of fake Aadhaar identities and issued fake ID SIM cards which were then used to create social media accounts to impersonate police officers.
CID arrested four gang members – Balwinder Singh, a SIM card distributor who activated fake accounts; Ansar Khan, a SIM card retailer who sold SIM cards for fake Aadhaar credentials; Saini, an accomplice who created the fake Aadhaar ID card; and Saddam, a recipient of the funds obtained through the fraud – from Rajasthan and are looking for a fifth suspect, Shakeel Ahmed, who allegedly created fake accounts on Facebook and other social media.
“There is an increase in the number of instances where social media profiles of public figures and officials, including police officers, are being duplicated to deceive the public. The impostor sends friend requests to all contacts and once accepted they would prompt people to transfer money to various e-wallets / payment bank accounts citing an urgent need, ”said MD Sharath, Superintendent of the CID Cybercrime Unit. Karnataka who made the recent arrests.
An FIR recorded on a complaint filed by DSP Prakash Rathod said: “The disbelievers uploaded a photo (of the officer) in police uniform, as well as one in civilian clothes, created fake profiles and began to pass off as. They started contacting Facebook friends and started asking for financial help citing emotional reasons. As a result, one of his Facebook friends transferred Rs 2,000 to the designated account. “
Some IPS agents like Harishekharan, who is the Inspector General of Police for Police Training in Karnataka, and Bengaluru (east) Deputy Police Commissioner SD Sharanappa were able to alert friends or shut down quickly fake accounts – before scammers can get their way.
“My profile is private but they managed to find some of my photos to create an account. Fortunately, the account only gathered 43 followers before I learned about it. Many of those who received the messages were from my village and they did not have the new payment systems. We were able to block the account in no time, ”Sharanappa says.
In December 2019, D Roopa, head of Karnataka IPS, who is now Minister of the Interior, raised the issue of a fake Instagram account in his name. “It’s not my account. I am not on Instagram. This is only brought to my attention now. Will complain to Cybercrime police station @CIDKarnataka. In the meantime, ask those on @instagram to report this issue, ”she tweeted.
Other agents known to have been recently targeted by the crooks include Tamil Nadu Police Additional Director General (Crime Against Women and Children) Mr. Ravi and Madurai Police Commissioner Davidson Devasirvatham.
The main result of their investigation, according to SP MD Sharath on Cybercrime, is the large-scale creation of fake Aadhaar credentials and the issuance of SIM cards without verification.
“The defendants created fake Aadhaar cards by mixing various photographs, addresses and Aadhaar numbers. One of the defendants, a SIM card retailer, used these fake Aadhaar details to request the activation of thousands of fake SIM cards, ”police said. The arrested SIM card retailer is said to have created more than 100 fake Aadhaar ID cards using his wife’s photo to obtain SIM cards.
Apart from impersonating police officers and officials on social media, these SIM cards were used by the gang to carry out scams on resale platforms such as Olx and Quikr. “The scam on resale platforms is the main activity of the gang; Identity theft on social media is a small business, ”said a police official.
“The public are advised not to fall prey to such frauds and to exercise caution in accepting any requests from government officials, especially those who are already on your friend list. Privacy controls provided by social media sites can be used to prevent misuse of information, ”Cybercrime Police said.
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