Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 24 May 2024 3.21 AM IST

Cyber ​​fraud and sim mafia; groups selling fake SIM cards in bulk active in Kerala


Most of the frauds are happening in cyberspace in modern times. Ironically, rich professionals and educated people are the most vulnerable to scams. In Kerala, about a thousand people have been victims of cyber fraud in the last five months. This includes 93 IT professionals, 55 doctors, 60 government officials, 39 teachers and 31 bank officials. Around 180 crore rupees were lost from the state during this period. A fraud of 33 crores took place in Kochi and 30 crores in Thiruvananthapuram. The information passed by central agencies to the state home department that groups that manufacture fake SIM cards in large numbers for cyber fraud gangs are operating in Kerala is a matter that needs to be taken very seriously in this context. The centre has also handed over the information of places where SIM cards are sold in large numbers.

The method involves taking fingerprints from customers multiple times and then using this to take SIM cards of various companies without their knowledge. Cyber ​​fraudsters use these SIM cards by buying them at a price. A shopkeeper in Varkala who handed over 250 illegally arranged SIM cards to foreign fraud groups was arrested. The subsequent investigation by the police has revealed that such frauds have taken place in different parts of the state. It has also been found that a group of Malayalees living abroad is at the helm of this scam. A member of this group was brought back to the state and arrested.

Frauds are being carried out through WhatsApp calls claiming to be from Customs and CBI officials and in the name of the non-existent parcels. A person arrested by the Kerala Police from Karnataka was found to be the main link in these scams. He handed over 40,000 SIM cards to a foreign fraud group. There are various cyber scams taking advantage of people's appetite for money. Double the initial deposit amount handed over to the scammer will reach the depositor's account in the next moment. This will repeat itself for some time. Finally, when a huge amount of money is handed over, the scammer will vanish from the scene. The easiest way to prevent these scams is to avoid responding to WhatsApp calls from unknown numbers.

The police officers themselves point out that there is no other way to stop the Malayalis from online fraud than through awareness. Reserve Bank should also take steps to create awareness among account holders through banks. The Central Department of Telecom has ordered to block 28,200 phones involved in cyber scams. Fraudsters often resort to other means when it comes to selling phones. The Department of Home Affairs should form expert cyber teams to stop their activities. Similarly, the current punishment for cyber fraud should also undergo a major change. Cybercrime should be treated as a crime similar to drug trafficking.

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