New online threat: How to protect yourself from digital arrest

Recently, a 50-year-old woman was put under 'digital arrest' and was cheated of Rs 11.11 lakh in Uttar Pradesh's Noida

With the advent of the digital age, cases of digital fraud and cybercrime have also risin rapidly. Meanwhile, “digital arrest” has emerged as a new manifestation of cyber crime, in which fraudsters present themselves as law enforcement agencies to defraud their targets.

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The fraudsters contact victims through any digital communication channel and create a sense of urgency and fear by manipulating them with fabricated evidence. After threatening them with supposed legal consequences, the cybercriminals demand significant amounts for avoidance.

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Deception with greater ingenuity

Recently, a 50-year-old woman was put under a digital arrest and was cheated of Rs 11.11 lakh in Uttar Pradesh’s Noida. She was forced to stay on a video call by cybercriminals and threatened with imprisonment if she didn’t follow the instructions.

The victim, an engineer, told the police that on the morning of November 13, she received an IVR (interactive voice response). She was told that she had another SIM card in her name that was used for fraudulent activities in Mumbai. The call was then transferred to a fake IPS officer, who interrogated her and then asked her to join a video call.

Subsequently, over the video call, the fraudsters told her that she had been named in a money laundering case, an FIR was registered, and an arrest warrant was issued against her. They then told her that they believed she was not guilty. However, she will have to transfer funds from all her bank accounts to another PFC (power finance corporation) account as per the directives of Supreme Court auditors.

Moreover, the woman was also told not to disclose any information to anyone as the matter pertained to “national security.”

The in-charge of cybercrime police station Sector 34, Reeta Yadav, said, “The woman was told that after she makes the fund transfers, the money will be reversed to her within three days after the auditor closes the investigation. However, when this did not happen, the complainant tried to reach out to the fraudsters and realised that she had been duped. She then submitted a complaint at the cybercrime police station on November 22.”

How to protect yourself?

In a similar way, a 23-year-old woman also fell victim to this new scam in Faridabad, Haryana, on October 12. She was duped of Rs 2.5 lakh by cybercriminals. Meanwhile, the law enforcement authorities are treating this new cyber fraud seriously.

Here is how to safeguard yourself from getting ‘digitally arrested’:

    • Stay informed about the latest scams and cybersecurity threats, and know about the fraudsters tactics.
    • Always verify the identity of the caller claiming to be a law enforcement officer.
    • Don’t hesitate to question the authenticity of the situation. Genuine legal matters are not handled through immediate threats but through formal procedures.
    • Do not reveal your personal information, including social security numbers, bank details, and passwords, to unknown or unverified individuals.
    • Contact the local law enforcement authorities if you are informed about legal allegations. Independently verify the information.
    • An authentic law enforcement agency always communicates through official channels.
    • The most important precaution is to educate yourself on common signs of scams, including unsolicited calls demanding money, threats of supposed legal actions, and requests for payment through unknown methods.

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