At cybercrime station, only 26 staff to deal with over 6,000 cases

Since its inception in April last year, the only police station dedicated to cybercrimes in the state, located in the premises of the commissioner’s office in the city, has registered over 6,000 complaints. And yet the number of cases solved is an abysmal 4%.
Officers say this is largely because the station is woefully understaffed. Only 26 officers are attached to the station — an inspector, two sub-inspectors, three ASIs and 20 constables — which means an average 236 cases per officer. And with each passing day, more cases are piling up.

Records show 2,218 complaints were registered in 109 days since the start of the calendar year (Jan 1 to April 16, 2018). Last year, 2,020 cases were logged and more than 1,900 complaints were received where the crimes were deemed ‘minor’ in nature. The statistics this year are just as staggering: 1,128 cases involving grievous economic offences and 1,090 complaints which are ‘minor’ in nature.

“Minor cases are those economic offences where complainants have lost not more than Rs 10,000,” an officer said.

Satish Kumar, joint commissioner of police (crime), admitted that the cybercrime wing was understaffed, but claimed the city had a “proper system to register cybercrime cases”. “We register all cybercrime related cases at this station so the number appears huge,” Kumar told TOI. “I have asked for additional personnel.”

Another officer said: “The detection percentage is low due to shortage of personnel, lack of equipment and coordination among various agencies. Many crimes are committed by offenders operating from other parts of the country and in some cases outside the country. It is hard for us to send personnel to other states to solve crimes.”

They also point to a delay in filing complaints. “In many cases, complainants approach us a month after the crime,” an officer said. “This is especially true with economic offences since victims are hopeful they would get back their money. In other cases, the offenders operate from abroad and it takes a lot of time to probe these cases since there are processes involved.”

Police say offences such as vishing (telephone equivalent of phishing), card skimming and cheating by demanding an advance (for example taking money for gifts, online selling and buying platforms) are on the rise in the city. Police say 233 ‘serious’ card skimming cases have been registered since April last year.

“We are trying to spread awareness about cybercrime since a lot of people continue to readily share their card details over phone (vishing),” Kumar said. “In most cases the victims are educated and many of them are tech savvy. Delay in approaching the police has also hampered investigations.”

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