In two separate cases of online heists being investigated by the cyber crime police station of Pune city, a businessman and a retired colonel, both based in Pune, lost Rs 95 lakh and Rs 6.5 lakh, respectively to cyber criminals who gained unauthorised access to their bank accounts allegedly via hacking and withdrew the amounts over multiple transactions.
Two separate FIRs were registered in the case at the cyber crime police station last week. The 45-year-old businessman who lost a whopping Rs 95 lakh runs an electric and home appliances trading business. He lost the money over 157 transactions. The second FIR has been registered by a 72-year-old retired Army colonel who was cheated over 23 transactions.
The complaint filed by the businessman said that since September 17, he started facing difficulties in carrying out online transactions from his bank accounts. On October 1, when he checked one of his accounts, he found that there was a balance of only Rs 500, instead of Rs 17 to 18 lakh. Later, when he got in touch with the two banks – one public sector and another cooperative – and took the statements of his three bank accounts, it came to light that between September 17 and October 1, Rs 95.8 lakh had been withdrawn in fraud transactions.
In the case of the retired colonel, between July 3 and July 17, he lost Rs 6.5 lakh. A senior officer from the cyber crime cell said a probe has been launched into both cases which prima facie appeared to involve bank account hacking. The retired officer had not received any alert for these transactions on the phone number linked to the bank account which is jointly held by him and one of his family members. “A probe has been launched into both these cases based on various technical leads available,” an officer said.
Officials said the victims of bank account hacking stop getting notifications of the fraudulent transactions primarily because once the hackers gain unauthorised access to the account, they change the account holder’s contact information, such as the registered phone number or email address and thus the legitimate account holders stop receiving notifications. In some more sophisticated hacking techniques, cybercriminals use methods to bypass or delay notifications to avoid detection. They manipulate or intercept messages sent by the bank or use other techniques to hide their activities, officials said.
Officials said some basic cyber hygiene norms to prevent online financial fraud include: Do not click on any unknown links. Do not download any attachments from unknown links. Do not install any applications from unknown sources. Refrain from giving out sensitive personal information on any unsecured web pages, platforms, unauthorised callers. Report any suspicious calls to the police immediately.
Officials said that once people realise that they have been cheated, they should approach the cyber crime cell in their respective area and can alternatively contact the state-level or national cyber crime helplines or portals. Approaching the police within 24 hours – often referred to as the golden hours – can help authorities initiate communication with banks to freeze fraudulent accounts, officials added.