FIA claims decline in cybercrime despite 40pc increase in internet use

Published May 1, 2020
Businessmen doing online trade disagree with authority’s claim. — AFP/File
Businessmen doing online trade disagree with authority’s claim. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) claimed on Thursday that cybercrime cases, including financial crimes, had shown a declining trend despite a 40 per cent increase in the use of internet, especially online shopping, during the lockdown across the country triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, some businessmen involved in online trade of goods dispute the FIA’s claim.

According to these businessmen, as there has been an increase in data usage during the lockdown and many people spend far more time online than usual, including performing day-to-day tasks such as shopping, banking, watching content and socializing, cyber criminals have seized the opportunity to exploit the crisis by adapting and changing their modes of operation and criminal activities.

The Cyber Crimes Wing (CCW) of the FIA said that the reduction in cyber financial crimes across the country during the lockdown was due to “effective measures” adopted by the agency.

Businessmen doing online trade disagree with authority’s claim

According to the FIA, the analysis of data of complaints at the CCW revealed a substantial decline in the rate of online financial crimes in the country despite a huge increase of 40 per cent in the usage of internet services during the lockdown.

“In all, 488 complaints of cyber financial crimes were reported during the lockdown as compared to 928 such complaints lodged during the corresponding period before the lockdown,” the FIA report said, adding that this undoubtedly depicted a considerable decrease in financial losses caused by cyber financial crimes in the country.

According to the CCW report, during the last 53 days, from March 1 to April 22, the cybercrime wing of the FIA busted six gangs of cyber criminals and detained 45 foreigners and local suspects.

Moreover, the report claimed, the formal registration of just 39 cases during the period reflected the “aggressive crackdown” launched by the FIA to safeguard the people from cyber miscreants.

According to the statistics, the report said, from March 1 to March 22, a total of 923 complaints were registered. Of these, it said, 154 were of online banking fraud, 130 website fraud, 497 mobile banking fraud and 141 social media-related fraud.

“The data shows a sharp decline in crimes during the period from March 23 to April 14 (the initial lockdown period), and total 488 complaints were registered. Of these, 89 were of online banking fraud, 273 mobile banking fraud and 50 social media-related fraud,” the report said.

The FIA further claimed that all this had been done because of effective mechanism for dissemination of information about cybercrimes to the people to make them cognisant of underlying threats and ploys being used by these cyber criminals to trick the innocent people, including businessmen.

However, some businessmen doing online business dispute the FIA’s claim. Farrukh Sultan, a businessman who was recently defrauded by some cyber criminals, said that conmen appeared to be sharp and shrewd and applied innovative techniques and skills to defraud the businessmen.

He said that businessmen in Pakistan took time to understand the cyber frauds. He said that businessmen doing online trade were now adapting to other ways to skip the fraud of cyber criminals, including doing business by operating more than one bank account at the same time.

He said he now did not use his main bank account for making online payments and use other bank accounts for the purpose. According to him, he deposited a small amount of money in his other bank accounts, especially at the time of making online payments, to save himself from the online fraud, besides using other tactics to skip the fraud of criminals.

Social media expert Omar R. Quraishi said that people generally and businessmen in particular were now using better tools and were more careful to avoid becoming victims of cybercrimes.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2020

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