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Cyber Fraud Cases Borne by COVID-19

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a range of problems across the world. A major hit was observed in the global economy, there was a rise in cases of domestic violence across the globe and another problem that has come under the spectrum is that of the rising number of cyber fraud cases.
In order to contain the deadly virus, the world is in a state of lockdown. During such vulnerability, the citizens of the world are willing to support one another by providing aid in any manner they can to ensure support for the less privileged. Materializing on this vulnerability are some criminals who are coming up with novel ways of defrauding people such as creating fake accounts and exploiting vulnerabilities of various applications by using information and technology to siphon off the money. Additionally, the lockdown has forced many employees to work from home. During this time, the use of public platforms may result in loss of confidential data if an organisation does not have its own infrastructure and does not use VPN (Virtual Private Network) for accessing its resources.

Recent Cyber Fraud Cases

Fake UPI for PM CARES Fund – It had come to notice of the authorities as well as users that a fake UPI ID was created which looked similar to that of PM CARES fund to deceive the donors. The Cyber Security watchdog CERT-In alerted the people and said, that pmcares@pnb, pmcares@hdfcbank, pmcare@yesbank, pmcare@ybl, pmcare@upi, pmcare@sbi and pmcare@icici are fake ids. “It may be noted that the genuine UPI Id is “pmcares@sbi” and registered account name is “PM CARES”. It is advised that citizens may verify the UPI ID and registered name before making any donations,” CERT-In said.
Facebook Fraud – Cases have been reported of fake Facebook accounts where money has been fraudulently asked for the treatment of alleged patients by hacking their accounts.
Zoom App Vulnerability – The  CERT-In recently circulated a vulnerability note giving Zoom a ‘medium’ security rating. It said that the permission to Zoom for accessing the user’s microphone, web-cam and data storage can result in hijacking and loss of private data. There is a possibility that ‘Zoomraiding’ or ‘Zoombombing’ can be started, in which hate speech, pornography or other content is suddenly flashed by disrupting a video call on Zoom. In addition to this, in the app, meeting IDs can be shared through a link, onscreen and other mediums which give the chances to uninvited guests to join a meeting and gain access to sensitive information.

Advisory by Interpol

The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) has released an advisory According to this, the people are recommended to avoid opening suspicious emails and clicking links in unrecognised emails and attachments, backup files regularly, use strong passwords, keep softwares updated, etc. It has also asked for the people to report the police immediately if he/she becomes the victim of cyber-crime. In guidelines for law-enforcement agencies, Interpol has warned about the emerging trend of false or misleading advertisements about medical products, setting up of fraudulent e-commerce platforms, phishing etc. during the pandemic. It has advised the agencies to be vigil about these happenings and take necessary actions to avoid such crimes.
At this time when there is a crunch of resources, cases of theft can drastically affect the financial burden of the country. In order to avoid it, it is important for not just enforcement agencies to stay vigil but also for organisations to take necessary measures such as the use of VPN, to ensure its safety and privacy.