Bhartesh Singh Thakur in Chandigarh
It’s a constant game of cat and mouse when it comes to tracking gangsters’ communication in Haryana but at the moment, the mouse has got a bit smarter. Gangsters whose numbers are usually under surveillance of police cyber cells are using “fake” numbers to make WhatsApp calls.
“There are certain websites where fake numbers are available. The numbers work for just 15 minutes. Once you enter details after downloading WhatsApp, an OTP (One Time Password) is generated. This OTP is also visible on these websites. After entering the OTP, one can make a call,” says SP, Security and Telecom, Pankaj Nain.
Kaushal gang, he points out, has used this methodology to make extortion calls or to threaten police or talk among themselves.
Kaushal gang is active in Gurugram, Faridabad and Rewari. Kaushal was arrested in August last year. After jumping parole in 2016, he was involved in a number of extortion cases and murders. In June last year, the gang was involved in the murder of Haryana Congress spokesperson Vikas Chaudhary in Faridabad.
“Fake calls and spoofing are common in Haryana,” says Nain.
But how are the police tracking the communication? “These days all social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram help in cracking crimes. Service providers also share information. But in the end, the outcome is based on a number of factors, including human intelligence. Whenever Internet is involved, a criminal leaves digital footprint. We have to not just track the communication, we have to nab the criminal too,” says Nain.
About spoof calls
It was poor network that led Haryana Power Minister Ranjit Chautala to detect extortionists. As soon as the spoof call from Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s landline number got cut, he called back but his OSD told him that they had not rung him up.
The extortionists were caught, with one in Delhi and another from Chandigarh.
In this case, Crazy Call app is used which allows you to make spoof calls. There are other apps available too. These software applications allow you to depict any name or number on another person’s phone screen. Such calls are made on Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). If the signal is weak, the sound will reach later than normal communication and the receiver can sense that something is fishy.
Crazy Call app is banned in India but accused Upkaar Singh, who has a PhD, used Opera web browser to download it. He used to run a taxi stand.
One of the simplest ways of spoofing is to make people store your number by the name of any VIP. It would fool people who use Truecaller app. Some years ago, a Karnal resident was found extorting money by claiming to be calling from the CM’s Office. The call ID would appear as ‘CM Office’ on Truecaller. There is also an advanced feature in the app where one can choose the name which will be depicted on the other’s mobile phone screen.
“The Virtual Private Network (VPN) platform generates different IP addresses, which makes it difficult to reach the real Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. It is used while making spoof calls too. We take the help of private technology experts for reaching criminals as well,” says Nain.
SIM card cloning
In SIM card cloning, there is more than one SIM of the same number which is in use. “But with advanced security features at the end of the service provider, only one number will work. So, as of now, this modus operandi is only used for financial frauds,” says the SP.
After taking details from social media accounts and befriending them, receivers are asked to switch off their mobile for a while by posing as service providers. Once the phone is switched off, they clone the SIM. The original number never gets the network and will cease to work. On the other hand, fraudsters would use the mobile number and OTPs generated on it and other details for further exploitation.
Pairing of devices
Pairing of devices is a new technology where two mobile phones or a watch and mobile phone are paired. Here, even if the main device is switched off, the paired device can be used to receive and send data. The calls or data can be received on one device only but some people bypass it too by making changes at backhand. Most of these fraudsters and gangsters have one or two technology experts as part of their team.
Dark web is separate from the usual world wide web (www), which is indexed by search engines. The rest forms part of Dark Web or Deep Web. “It is used for smuggling of arms and drugs. It is difficult to crack. Haryana is yet to get any case related to it but other states have witnessed cases of drug peddling,” says Nain.
The deals are made in virtual currency like Bitcoin. After making purchases, the products land at your doorstep like what one gets from Amazon or Flipkart.
As per information reported to and tracked by CERT-In, the number of cyber security incidents in India:
- 2016 : 50,362
- 2017: 53,117
- 2018: 2,08,456
- 2019 (Till Oct): 3,13,649
77% Increase in the number of cyber crime cases registered in two years
- Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka were the top three states, respectively, in registering cyber crimes
- Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh lower in pecking order
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