‘Cyber Encounters’ is a handbook on cyber fraudsters and how to catch them : The Tribune India

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‘Cyber Encounters’ is a handbook on cyber fraudsters and how to catch them

‘Cyber Encounters’ is a handbook on cyber fraudsters and how to catch them

Cyber Encounters: Cops’ Adventures with Online Criminals by Ashok Kumar and OP Manocha. Penguin Random House India. Pages 198. Rs 299

Book Title: Cyber Encounters: Cops’ Adventures with Online Criminals

Author: Ashok Kumar and OP Manocha

Jupinderjit Singh

IF mobile phone and Internet have brought the world to your palm, they have also provided the criminals with an equal opportunity to inveigle your life savings while sitting thousands of kilometres away.

From a cab driver to superstar Amitabh Bachchan, both commoners and the high and mighty have fallen prey to cyber crime. They could be sitting in the remote villages of the Jamtara belt spread over Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal, or Bharatpur in Rajasthan, or Mewat in Haryana, or might just be calling from a call centre in a metropolis. In 2022, as many as 2,500 cyber fraud cases were registered in the country every day. So much so that cybercrime constituted half the total number of crimes reported in the country last year.

But there is hope. For every case of fraud registered in the country, a dedicated team of policemen is burning the midnight oil, pursuing the digital footprint of the criminals and travelling hundreds of kilometres with just a small clue in hand to catch the criminals and bring your money back. At least this is what 12 police success stories against such criminals in a book titled ‘Cyber Encounters: Cops’ Adventures with Online Criminals’ tell us.

Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar and OP Manocha, an ex-DRDO (Defence and Research Development Organisation) scientist, have come together to pen these gripping stories. The DGP already has to his credit two books — ‘Human in Khaki (Khaki Mein Insaan)’ and ‘Challenges to Internal Security of India’.

Every story leaves you enriched regarding the tricks fraudsters apply and how to protect yourself from fraud. Each story is a lesson in technology. For instance, not many of us note that a URL (uniform resource locator) beginning with https… means it is safe (S for secure) while just http… is unsafe. Visiting such sites is dangerous and an invitation to scamsters to penetrate your virtual life. Lucky, a businessman, learnt this the hard way when he became a victim of sextortion. Lured by a girl (who was actually a boy using voice modulation) from the hinterland of Mewat, he became easy prey. If only Lucky had known the difference between http and https or had seen that the lock icon in the address was red and crossed out, meaning it was unsafe, he would have never walked into the trap.

All stories expose one or the other trick used by the cyber criminals. A group of senior citizens is looted on the pretext of providing out-of-the-way helicopter ride and darshan of a temple in Uttarakhand. In another case, scamsters make a woman pay, hold your breath, Rs 66 lakh for a cocker spaniel worth some thousands. A gang in Jhajjar loots hundreds by cloning ATM cards using the ATM skimming technique. A bunch of teens loots senior citizens in America by operating from a call centre in Dehradun.

Some swindlers even pose as DGP Ashok Kumar on social media, befriend common citizens and try to loot them. Another story tells us to beware of bank employees whom we often trust blindly.

Superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who lost Rs 5 lakh to a gang of cybercriminals from Jamtara, writes in the Foreword, “On the Internet, nothing is completely private, and once something goes online, it is difficult to control its spread. This book has attempted to explain everything in straightforward terms using anecdotes and personal experiences. They serve as a vital eye-opener by illuminating both typical and uncommon cybercrimes.”

DGP Ashok Kumar ends the book on a note of caution and assurance: “Cybercrime is a never-ending game of oneupmanship between the police and criminals. It is getting tougher with criminals using newer technologies and police toiling to upgrade its forces technologically. People have to fight along with security forces to prevent cybercrime.”

And if the cyber criminals still succeed, police will catch them, come what may.