Cybercrimes fall by 40% in first half of 2021

Police official credits awareness programmes with the turnaround

Cybercrimes have fallen by 40% in the first half of 2021 as compared to the same period last year in the city, say police.

In 2020, the total number of cybercrime cases stood at 353. Of these, the cases reported between January and June 2020 stood at 187. From January 1 to June-end in 2021, the number of cybercrime cases stood at 100.

According to statistics obtained from the Cybercrime wing of the Visakhapatnam City Police, out of the total cases, the city reported 22 social media cybercrime cases in 2021 as against 40 in the first half of 2020. Eleven cases related to One-Time Password (OTP) fraud were reported in 2021, while 22 such cases were reported during the corresponding period last year.

As many as 25 cases of frauds related to second-hand online shopping/loans/jobs were reported till June in 2021, while during the same period last year, 57 cases were reported. The city also witnessed 29 cases of online financial fraud till June this year, as against 65 cases in 2020. Thirteen lottery frauds were reported in the first half of 2020 and 2021.

Attributing the decline to various factors, Cybercrime Police Station Inspector R.V.R.K. Chowdhary said, “Awareness programmes were intensified in the last few years, which helped greatly. We conducted a number of camps in educational institutions, offices, public places about the crimes occurring on social media. OTP frauds, online job frauds, second hand online shopping frauds have also come down drastically.”

YouTube channel

Keeping in view the COVID-19 situation and to ensure outreach of the awareness programmes regarding cybercrimes, the police launched a special YouTube channel called Cybercrime Visakhapatnam City. Cybercrime Sub-Inspector Ravi Kishore said that they have been creating videos on topics like OTP fraud, social media stalking, lottery fraud, and online shopping fraud, and how to identify fake social media accounts, and uploading it on to the channel.

Police staff themselves don the roles of actors, and shoot the videos using various apps. The videos are slowly gaining popularity, Mr. Ravi Kishore said.

“The outreach of the videos and the awareness programmes is encouraging. Many people are contacting us if they receive any fraud calls/messages or e-mails,” he added.

Social media frauds

Among the major crimes, social media frauds including stalking have been an area of concern for the police, who are exhorting the youth, especially young women, to be more cautious. Police said that due to the lockdown and increase in usage of mobile phones, such crimes may rise further.

“There are two ways of approach here. In one case, a fraudster contacts an unknown woman, befriends her and then harasses her. In other cases, a boy or even a girl, who is a known to the person, threatens women with morphed photographs over an old grudge,” said SI Ravi Kishore.

He also appealed to the youth to watch out for friend requests sent to them from fake profiles created in the name of their acquaintances on social media websites.

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