Govt disconnects 70 lakh mobile involved in financial frauds: DFS Secretary

About Rs 900 crore of defrauded money has been saved, benefitting 3.5 lakh victims, an official statement said.

New Delhi: To check digital frauds, the government has disconnected 70 lakh mobile numbers so far involved in cybercrime or financial frauds, Financial Services Secretary Vivek Joshi said on Tuesday.

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Emerging from a meeting to discuss issues related to financial cyber security and increasing digital payment fraud, Joshi, who chaired the meeting, said banks have been asked to strengthen the system and processes in this regard.

More such meetings would take place, he said, adding the next meeting is scheduled in January.

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During the meeting, it was noted that 70 lakh mobile connections involved in cybercrime/ financial frauds reported through digital intelligence platforms have been disconnected so far.

About Rs 900 crore of defrauded money has been saved, benefitting 3.5 lakh victims, an official statement said. With regard to Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) fraud reported recently, he said states have been asked to look into the issue and ensure data protection.

He also said that there was a discussion with regard to KYC standardisation of merchants.

The meeting chaired by the Financial Services Secretary also deliberated on how to ensure better coordination among various agencies to check cyber fraud.

Joshi said there was a need to create awareness about cyber fraud in society to protect gullible customers from being duped.

The Indian Cyber Crime Co-ordination Center (I4C), Ministry of Home Affairs, made a presentation on the latest statistics of digital payment frauds as reported in the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (NCRP), various sources of these financial frauds, modus operandi adopted by the fraudsters, including challenges faced to counter financial cybercrimes, it said.

Further, representatives from State Bank of India (SBI) made a brief presentation on the Proactive Risk Monitoring (PRM) strategy implemented by SBI. Besides, PayTM and Razorpay representatives also shared their best practices which has enabled them to mitigate such frauds, it said.

The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Department of Economic Affairs, Department of Revenue, Department of Telecom, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and National Payments Corporation of India.

The meeting took stock of the preparedness of the banks and other financial institutions in tackling the challenges arising from cyber security in the financial services sector, increasing trend of digital payment frauds, and deliberated on a focused approach to mitigate such cyber-attacks and frauds, it said.

Some of the issues deliberated in the meeting included a strategy to tackle the menace of mule accounts by banks and how banks can improve the response time in handling the alerts on online financial frauds received from different agencies.

Appointment of regional/ state level nodal officers by the banks and financial institutions to cater to the requirements of law enforcement agencies and whitelisting of digital lending apps through consultation with relevant stakeholders were also discussed during the meeting.

The meeting assumes significance in view of digital fraud witnessed by UCO Bank and Bank of Baroda in the recent past.

Earlier this month, Kolkata-based public sector lender UCO Bank reported erroneous credit of Rs 820 crore to account holders of the bank via Immediate Payment Service (IMPS).

During November 10-13, the bank observed that due to technical issues in IMPS, certain transaction(s) initiated by holders of other banks have resulted in credit to the account holders in UCO Bank without actual receipt of money from these banks.

IMPS is a real-time interbank electronic funds transfer system without any intervention.

The bank blocked the recipients’ accounts and has been able to recover Rs 649 crore of the Rs 820 crore or about 79 per cent of the amount.

The state-owned bank is yet to clarify whether this technical glitch was due to human error or a hacking attempt.

However, the bank has reported the matter to the law enforcement agencies for necessary action.

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