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  • Context (IE): The central government has collaborated with Microsoft to block more than 1,000 Skype IDs used in the Digital Arrest scam.

    Digital Arrest - PMF IAS

    Credit: TOI

What is digital arrest?

  • In a digital arrest, victims are forced to stay visible on video calls like Skype and are interrogated until they meet the criminals’ demands.
  • Criminals use studios resembling police stations or government offices & pretend to be from the police, CBI, Narcotics Control Bureau, RBI, ED, and other agencies.
  • Victims’ phone numbers are sourced from online databases or bought from corrupt bank employees.
  • The recent shift to Skype is a new tactic. It allows them to target more victims & maintain anonymity.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used to scare victims by mimicking the voices of their family members.
  • Intelligence agencies concluded that these incidents are part of an organised online economic crime racket run by cross-border crime syndicates.

How Fraudsters Operate the Crime?

  • The fraudster typically calls the victim and claims the victim has sent or will receive a parcel containing illegal items, fake passports, or contraband.
  • Alternatively, they may claim a family member is involved in a crime or accident and is in their custody.
  • To resolve this fake situation, the fraudsters demand a large sum of money.

Actions by the Centre

  • The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) blocked more than 1,000 Skype IDs.
  • I4C is also working to block SIM cards, mobile devices, and “mule” accounts used by cybercriminals.
    • Money mules are innocent victims used to launder stolen money via their bank accounts.
  • I4C posts infographics and videos on its social media platform Cyberdost.
  • Such incidents can be reported via the cybercrime helpline 1930 or at http://www.cybercrime.gov.in.
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