City cops no longer de­pend on Mum­bai foren­sic lab­o­ra­tory

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI - Pranab Jy­oti Bhuyan pranab.bhuyan@hin­dus­tan­ Pranab Jy­oti Bhuyan pranab.bhuyan@hin­dus­tan­

While the city po­lice, af­ter the in­au­gu­ra­tion of a new lab, are ex­pect­ing a bet­ter de­tec­tion rate for cy­ber­crime, they are still fac­ing a very tough time re­duc­ing them.

Within the first six months of this year, the Navi Mum­bai cy­ber cell has re­ceived 838 com­plaints, a ma­jor­ity of which are card frauds and vish­ing. The num­ber of com­plaints re­ceived in the cor­re­spond­ing du­ra­tion of 2015 was just 512.

The sta­tis­tics re­veal that 326 more peo­ple fell prey to the cy­ber frauds this year record­ing a 63.67% rise in such cases.

“When it comes to card frauds, the cul­prits take de­tails of the vic­tims’ cards pos­ing as bank of­fi­cials. In some other cases, they use skim­mers on the un­guarded ATMs and that’s how they pro­cure the card de­tails. With those de­tails they make a du­pli­cate card and use it for on­line shopping,” said Ankush Khed­kar, head of Navi Mum­bai cy­ber cell.

Ac­cord­ing Khed­kar, apart from the cy­ber cell, such crimes are also reg­is­tered at dif­fer­ent po­lice sta­tions.

There­fore, the to­tal num­ber of reg­is­tered cy­ber­crimes so far this year is not clear.

“We have ob­served that one com­mon rea­son be­hind most of such crimes is greed. In­stead of di­rectly ask­ing for se­cret de­tails, the cy­ber frauds now also talk about some bonus points. They lure the prospec­tive vic­tims by say­ing that if they up­grade their records by giv­ing their credit card or debit card num­ber, ac­count num­ber, PIN num­ber or date of birth they will get some bonus points and thus an amount of Rs 1,000-2,500 will be cred­ited to their bank ac­counts. Greedy peo­ple do not take much time to give their de­tails when they are told such things and thus they end up los­ing money,” Khed­kar said.

“Same is the case with lot­tery frauds. Some vic­tims even re­ceived calls from num­ber is­sued by for­eign coun­tries,” he added.

The po­lice are, how­ever, help­ing the vic­tims in get­ting back the money they lost, from their re­spec­tive banks. In July alone, the banks gave around Rs 10 lakh to the vic­tims af­ter the po­lice vouched for their loss.

Khedekar said, “When we re­alise that a per­son has gen­uinely lost money to such crim­i­nals, we reg­is­ter the case in­stantly and also write to the bank of­fi­cials. The banks then give that money to the vic­tims fol­low­ing the guide­line of the Re­serve Bank of In­dia.”

“We have sent the re­cov­ered ob­jects for anal­y­sis to the foren­sic lab in Kalina. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion will progress af­ter we re­ceive re­ports from the lab.” Un­til last week, this was a com­mon state­ment by Navi Mum­bai po­lice on in­ves­ti­ga­tions into se­ri­ous crimes.

Any elec­tronic de­vice or gad­get such as mo­bile phones, lap­tops and hard disks that might carry ev­i­dence of a crime are sent to the foren­sic lab by the po­lice. With the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the cy­ber­crime lab at the po­lice com­mis­sioner’s of­fice on In­de­pen­dence Day, the city’s cops are no longer de­pen­dent on Mum­bai’s foren­sic lab.

The po­lice can ex­am­ine and an­a­lyse such items, and re­trieve deleted data in the lab. Since this lab will be used ex­clu­sively for crimes that fall un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Navi Mum­bai po­lice, the anal­y­sis will not take long and thus, in­ves­ti­ga­tions will be ex­pe­dited.

In view of in­creas­ing cy­ber­crimes across the coun­try, the state es­tab­lished 44 such labs in the state on Au­gust 15. A team of six trained of­fi­cers un­der the guid­ance of two se­nior of­fi­cers have been ap­pointed at the lab. “This lab may not help in re­duc­ing cy­ber­crimes, but it will def­i­nitely in­crease the de­tec­tion rate. We have ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies like Ad­vik tools and True back tools in the lab,” said Dilip Sawant, deputy com­mis­sioner of po­lice (crime).

Ac­cord­ing to Sawant, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mur­der of a Dalit boy by a mob in Nerul last month ex­em­pli­fies how the po­lice will be ben­e­fit from this lab. “The girl’s fam­ily was in­fu­ri­ated af­ter they learnt that the girl had sent her pho­to­graph to the boy on his mo­bile. They took away his phone, but did not find the pho­to­graph. So they vis­ited his res­i­dence at SBI Colony to check if he stored the photo in his com­puter af­ter delet­ing it from his mo­bile. We can re­trieve such deleted data from any de­vice in­stantly,” he said.

“Such labs have be­come nec­es­sary to in­ves­ti­gate even tra­di­tional crimes. Al­most all crim­i­nals now use mo­bile phones, com­put­ers, lap­tops and in­ter­net,” said another se­nior officer who was ear­lier head of the Pune cy­ber cell.

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