The “well-networked” hackers, police say, use foreign domain address to hoodwink targets so that investigation is hampered due to the slow process of probe involving foreign security agencies. While the trend is not too recent, it is on an alarmingly high rate of increase in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai, apart from Noida.
According to cyber crime expert Rakshit Tandon, who advises the UP Police, hackers based in India gather data pertaining to gullible email users, mostly businessmen and their employees. “It is an organised crime on the rise in the metro cities of India and in Noida. And data theft is the biggest cause of leakage of email account details.”
The most common method, however, remains sending spam emails to users with shopping offers or rewards promising prizes. “These mails usually contain links to a URL where clicking even once will help the hacker get all your data, with which they can create a fake email ID and then send fake mails to the target,” he said.
Tandon said that the most common target of email spoofing and another version of the crime called man in the middle (MIM) approach, are the exporters and importers who deal with foreign clients, who are found amply in Noida. Corporate employees are the second category of the targets.
MIM involves creating a fake email ID using same or slightly tweaked alphabets/characters of an ID and sending emails to the user’s clients/dealers demanding a certain amount of money. The account number mentioned is usually based abroad.
Noida Employees Association (NEA) general secretary VK Seth told TOI that of the 9,600 companies and business entities, about 500 are exporters/importers. Phase III and Sector 58 police stations, for example, are dealing with at least two recent cases involving email spoofing against an exporter and an employee of a consulting firm — both of whom were sent fake emails demanding money.
While exporter Naveen Jain was duped Rs 27 lakh, 31-year-old Anubhooti Agrawal had been cheated of Rs 17,400 after the impersonator created a fake email ID on the name of her boss and asked her to deposit money in his bank account immediately.
An officer at Gautam Budh Nagar’s dedicated Centre for Cyber Crime Investigation (CCCI) said, “These are usually India-based hackers who change the domain address to a location abroad to hoodwink the police. This is because once the server is traced abroad, it prolongs the investigation,” he said. Tandon says while local hackers take to such tactics to confuse police, many have tie-ups abroad. “Hackers are an international community. Those based in India tie up with hackers abroad and the latter would create mails for them,” Tandon said.
The reason is simple: Once the domain server is traced abroad, cops in India will have to involve international agencies to fetch details about the accused. “Involvement of international agencies like the Interpol is possible only when the fraud is of massive level. As small transactions fail to get the attention of international agencies, this type of online fraud is flourishing,” Tandon said.
But, is the CCCI well-equipped to deal with such fraud? Gautam Budh Nagar SSP Vaibhav Krishna said “the police understand that there is need for capacity augmentation when it comes to cyber crime”.