Centre blocks over 1,000 Skype IDs used by cybercriminals

They were being used for blackmail, extortion, and “digital arrests” by cybercriminals posing as police and law enforcement authorities

Updated - May 14, 2024 10:07 pm IST

Published - May 14, 2024 04:34 pm IST - New Delhi

Image used for illustration purpose only.

Image used for illustration purpose only. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C), in collaboration with Microsoft, has blocked more than 1,000 Skype IDs involved in blackmail, extortion, and “digital arrests” by cybercriminals posing as police and law enforcement authorities, the Union Home Ministry said on Tuesday.

The Ministry said this was an organised online economic crime and was learnt to be operated by cross-border crime syndicates.

The I4C is also facilitating blocking of SIM cards, mobile devices, and mule accounts used by such fraudsters, it said.

The Ministry said that a a large number of complaints were being reported on the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (NCRP) regarding such frauds by cybercriminals posing as officials of the Police Department, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Narcotics Department, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Enforcement Directorate, and other law enforcement agencies.

“These fraudsters typically call a potential victim and inform that the victim has sent or is the intended recipient of a parcel, which contains illegal goods, drugs, fake passports or any other contraband item. Sometimes, they also inform that a near or dear one of the victim has been found to be involved in a crime or an accident and is in their custody,” the Ministry said.

Elaborating the modus operandi, the Ministry said that a demand for money is made to “compromise the case.”

“In certain instances, unsuspecting victims are made to undergo ‘Digital Arrest’ and remain visually available over Skype or other video conferencing platform to the fraudsters, till their demands are met. The fraudsters are known to use studios modeled on police stations and government offices and wear uniforms to appear genuine,” it said.

Several people across the country have lost large sums of money to such criminals.

The I4C coordinates activities related to combating cybercrime in the country and the Home Ministry is closely working with other Ministries, the RBI, and other organisations to counter these frauds. The I4C is also providing inputs and technical support to States for identifying and investigating the cases.

“I4C has also blocked more than 1,000 Skype IDs involved in such activities, in collaboration with Microsoft. It is also facilitating blocking of SIM cards, mobile devices and mule accounts used by such fraudsters. Citizens are advised to be alert and spread awareness about these types of frauds. On receipt of such calls, the citizens should immediately report the incident on cybercrime helpline number 1930 or www.cybercrime.gov.in for assistance,” it said.

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