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IDENTITY THEFT / FINANCIAL FRAUDS

According to data of the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2016, a total of 1,545 cases were filed for Identity Theft and a total of 1,597 cases were filed for cheating by personation in India. In 2017, both of the above case numbers doubled[1].

Most cases related to impersonation online / identity theft are often also relate to financial frauds and extortion, such as the case of forging a credit or debit card or even cloning a mobile SIM with dishonest or fraudulent intent to cause wrongful loss to another.

COVID19 lockdown resulted in a surge in cybercrimes, most of which were financial frauds (https://www.rediff.com/news/interview/coronavirus-in-india-covid-19-lockdown-how-cyber-criminals-cheat-you/20200428.htm). These included online shopping frauds.

Victims invariably fall prey out of fear – in many instances of being either blocked from using their own money or the inconvenience of having to otherwise visit the bank. Criminals keep innovating and with every advertisement that a bank may issue to protect against phishing attacks there are several new and ingenuous ways that the Criminal pries out banking details from victims.

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Your amount may be big or small but if you do not report, you are merely encouraging criminals and each person’s small sum adds up to millions of rupees swindled.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 (as amended) (“IT Act”) and The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (“IPC”) provide remedies against such offences.

Theft of money punishable under S.380 IPC; Cheating punishable under S.420 IPC; Cheating by impersonation either under IPC (S.416 IPC) or IT Act (S.66D IT Act); identity theft under S.66C IT Act, are some remedies available in such cases. Depending on the facts of the case the applicable provisions may be invoked.

Victims can also seek Legal remedies against such scams, including by seeking remedies before the Adjudicating Officer, in proceedings under Section 46 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (as amended) (“IT Act”).

Proceedings before the Adjudicating Officer have been quite successful for victims of phishing / vishing frauds, especially where there has been a breach of sensitive personal / financial information of victim from the bank or organisation. This remedy however has not been utilized to its full potential.

In case of banking frauds, Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) has issued circulars with respect to the liability of banks and payment systems, in cases of financial frauds. Whilst earlier circulars placed most of this onus on banks, the RBI circular of 2017 created two broad categories of liability.

Victims should therefore seek legal remedies to protect their interests and rights and also to ensure that others are not victimised further by such miscreants.

File your complaint online on cybercrime.gov.in ; Seek justice and ensure that criminals do not harm you or others. Be A Cyber Saathi!

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