Cyberworld sees new forms of crimes

Fraud is being carried out by taking control of various online platforms including Facebook without the knowledge of its users. People are being duped by catchy advertisements luring them with promises of loans. And money is being taken from customers through fake orders for expensive restaurants.

An analysis of 406 cases, which were received by the Cyber and Special Crime Division of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Detective Brach (DB) in the last two and a half years, revealed these forms of online crimes.

DB’s Cyber and Special Crime (North Division) deputy commissioner Mohamad Tareque Bin Rashid told Prothom Alo on Saturday that new forms of cybercrimes are coming to the limelight and frauds are mostly taking place in various online platforms.

Analysis of case records shows various forms of cybercrimes.One such crime is a group of foreign citizens taking away big amounts of money from people using the lure of loans. They give advertisements for easy loans using various online platforms including Facebook. One needs to download certain apps to avail a loan, thus these gangs get access to users’ personal information – password, images and videos. These gangs even demanded Tk 50,000 in interest against a loan of Tk 5,000 and when borrowers refused to pay the money these gangs then threatened to spread personal information on social media.

Another cyber fraud incident came to limelight last Ramadan. A gang opened a fake Facebook page of a popular restaurant in Dhaka and ran a catchy advertisement on the discount of iftar and sehri items. Many customers also paid then in advance, but when customers went to the restaurant, they learned they had been deceived. The DB arrested a youth, from Narail, in Dhaka. He admitted that a gang based in Narail was carrying out this operation.

Additional deputy commissioner of DB Junaid Alam Sarkar told Prothom Alo they have traced several area-based cybercrime gangs. Several members of different gangs have been arrested from time to time and effort is underway to nab the reaming ones, he added.

According to DB sources, a gang based in Bhanga and Madhukhali area of Faridpur district is involved in such deception related to mobile banking. Several gangs based in Lalpur of Natore carry out fraudulence by taking control of users’ imo accounts. Another gang based in Narail deceive people in guise of selling goods on various Facebook pages, and several gangs are also active in Rangpur and Nilphamari. These cheaters have been using images of others people including politicians to deceive people.

Of the 406 cases received by the Cyber and Special Crime Division, 98 cases or 24.18 per cents are related online fraud; 93 cases or 23.89 per cent on Facebook hacking; 78 cases (16.21 per cent) on speaking derogatory remarks and false information online, 72 cases (17.73 per cent) on fraud through banking and mobile financial services and 61 cases (15.02 per cent) on other forms of cybercrimes.

80pc victims are women

A crime gang took control of the Facebook account belonging to a higher secondary student at Dhaka Mohanogor Mohila College. Perpetrators then edited pictures of the girl, sent those to her family and demanded Tk 10,000 in ransom. After that, the girl’s mother filed a cased at Sutrapur police station under the Digital Security Act. The Cyber and Special Crime Division of the Detective Brach was tasked with investigating the case.

Detectives then traced certain Baitul Islam alias Munna in connection with the incident and arrested him. DB sources said Baitul Islam confessed during interrogation that he targeted college and university girls and hacked their accounts. He then demanded ransom threatening them to spread their personal information and images on social media platform. The DB seized his cell phone after his arrest. Forensic tests on the cell phone at Criminal Investigation Department lab found the device also contained image and video of many women and information on demanding ransom to various families.

Regarding this, a DB official said women mostly become victims of Facebook account hacking in cybercrime world. Hackers send various links and lured users to browse it and then learned passwords. Hackers then took control of Facebook accounts and users’ personal information. They then blackmail the victims and take ransom. Other than this, fraudsters get acquainted with women through social media and build up a relationship. Later, they lure the women into a trap to blackmail them.

Fraud through banking and MFS

Fraud often takes place in the financial service of banks and mobile phone by stealing information of customers. The DB officials concerned said fraudster gangs steal customer information in various ways. They then identifying themselves as officials of various companies call customers and deceitfully learn OTP (one time password), which was sent to the account holder of the respective financial services. After that, fraudsters withdraw the money from the victim’s account. Besides, money is also being withdrawn from bank accounts of customers by stealing information from bank server and bank officials are allegedly involved in some cases.

Farzana Tasnin, who works at private bank, experienced such incident. Members of a fraudster gang took control of several credit cards belonging to her on 25 April and withdrew Tk 196,000 in phases. Farzana Tasnin filed a case at the Adabor police station in the capital. According to the case statement, a fraudster identifying himself as a call centre official learned her OTP of her credit card and withdrew the money

Touhid Bhuiyan, professor and head of Computer Science and Engineering department at Daffodil International University, told Prothom Alo not all of cybercrimes are reported to police with people from different profession being victim to various types of cybercrime. Many victims do not complain fearing social harassment, encouraging cybercriminals to commit more offences.

It is necessary to take initiative by the government to provide adequate legal assistance to cybercrime victims, professor Touhid Bhuiyan said, recommending mandatory inclusion of cybercrime awareness in curriculum at schools, colleges and universities.

This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna