One of the country’s largest cybercrime networks in the national capital’s backyard in Haryana’s Nuh was busted last month with the arrest of 66 accused who had allegedly duped around 28,000 people across the country to the tune of ₹100 crore. But the job of Nuh Police is far from over yet.
Sifting through the complaints to link them to the accused, trailing the crime proceeds, taking up the matter with different agencies such as the Income Tax and the Enforcement Directorate and making efforts to block around 20,000 SIMs procured fraudulently, Nuh Police wants to “make an example out of the accused” to deter cyber criminals in the region.
Breeding ground for cybercrimes
Notorious for vehicle thefts and cattle smuggling, Nuh, one of the 100 most backward districts in the country, as identified by Niti Aayog in 2018, provides a perfect breeding ground to cybercrime due to its socio-economic conditions. Cybercrimes gained prominence in the region during the COVID-19-induced lockdown because of unemployment and spurt in online activities.
Setting new benchmark
As a first step, Nuh Police has been linking the accused with the multitude of complaints lodged against them in different parts of the country to share “actionable” information with their counterparts.
Superintendent of Police (Nuh) Varun Singla told The Hindu that the police have expanded the scope of investigation to involve various agencies, police forces of the States, and the victims, to set a “new benchmark” in cybercrime investigation.
“Cybercrime is faceless and borderless. It is difficult to link the accused to the crime making it easy for them to quickly secure the bail. It makes cybercrime the fastest growing crime. We want to make an example out of these accused to create fear among the aspiring cyber criminals,” said Mr. Singla.
The spread of cybercrime in Nuh — which has earned it the sobriquet of “New Jamtara” — was also helped by the strategic location of crime-ridden villages dotting the Haryana-Rajasthan border.
“Most of the 40 villages infested with cybercrime are along the Haryana-Rajasthan border. It makes it easy for these criminals to escape to Rajasthan in case of raids to avoid arrest. In April, we mounted raids in 14 villages. We seized 66 phones, 99 SIMs and several fake documents, including Aadhaar cards. It helped us link them to the crime and also seek police remand citing seizure of fake documents,” said the Superintendent of Police.
These accused have duped around 28,000 people for which 1,350-odd FIRs have been registered, he added. The rest of the cases are in the inquiry stage. “We have now linked each of the accused with their respective involvement in these complaints to make it easy for the police in other States to carry out further investigation and take them to a logical conclusion. It will also lead to registration of thousands of cases across the country making it difficult for the accused to secure bails,” said Mr. Singla.
Nuh Police also plans to trail the crime proceeds to identify the properties bought with the ill-gotten money and initiate the process for their attachment. The details regarding bank accounts opened through fraudulent means and crime proceeds will also be shared with the Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate. Telecom companies and banks are also being contacted to plug “gaps” in the “Know Your Customer” check process for the identification of the customers exploited by the accused to procure SIMs and open bank accounts through fraudulent means.
Meanwhile, the district police have constituted ten teams each headed by an Inspector-level officer to mount raids at the possible hideouts of the suspects on the run. Around 250 suspects in Nuh are at large since the raids in April, dismantling the cybercrime network in the region for the time being.