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Rising Cyber Frauds Pose Growing Threats to India’s Financial Landscape

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In the year 2023, the Indian subcontinent has been a focal point for both accolades and concerns, with a spotlight on the escalating cybercrimes plaguing the nation. Cybersecurity issues, particularly digital frauds, have become a pressing matter of worry for Indians.

A recent report on digital frauds in the financial service sector highlighted Microsoft and Facebook as the most impersonated brands globally, with India standing out as a significant engagement base for these Fortune 500 companies. As we anticipate that digital frauds will continue to be a major concern in 2024, heightened awareness about phishing attacks, Ponzi schemes, and fraudulent activities becomes imperative for effective prevention.

An alarming report underscores the gravity of the situation, revealing that as many as 75% of the population in India has fallen victim to various cybercrimes, especially financial frauds, from January 2020 to June 2023.

While phishing attacks, malware, and financial frauds remain common tactics employed by scammers, India faces an even more challenging digital landscape. According to Strategy India, a consultancy affiliated with the Indian Direct Selling Association (ISDA), the country has witnessed the emergence of over 400 new multi-level marketing pyramid schemes in 2023—the highest number recorded in the past five years. Notable schemes and companies, including Mission Green India, Jivan Daan, Dhan Vriddhi, and Captcha Pay, have been blacklisted by the government body. Recognizing this growing threat, it is crucial to intensify efforts to eradicate fraudulent activities.

Phishing attacks have seen a staggering rise of 173% in the third quarter of 2023, while malware threats surged by 110% during the same period. This digital epidemic extends beyond India, affecting countries worldwide, with Nigeria, China, Mexico, and Indonesia among the top 10 nations facing a rising tide of scammers.

Notably, scams not only target Indian citizens within the country but also those residing abroad. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India has issued a recent advisory highlighting a significant increase in overseas job seekers falling prey to unregistered recruitment agents through fake job offers and exorbitant charges, ranging from ₹2-5 lakh.

“Illicit agents operate through platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and text messages, often providing minimal details about their location and contacts,” said MEA.

The MEA expressed concern that these unscrupulous agents primarily communicate through WhatsApp, making it challenging to verify their location, identity, and the authenticity of the job offers. Furthermore, victims are lured into working in challenging and life-threatening conditions.

The MEA reported fake job offers targeting recruitment for various countries, including East European countries, some Gulf nations, Central Asian countries, Israel, Canada, Myanmar, and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

As India grapples with the growing threat of cybercrimes, proactive measures, awareness campaigns, and stringent actions against fraudulent entities are imperative to safeguard the nation’s financial landscape and protect its citizens, both at home and abroad.

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