Even though about 6,000 villages in Odisha dont have mobile connectivity, cybercrimes go on increasing in the state each year.
According to official data, 1,475 cybercrime cases were registered in 2019, which increased to 1,931 cases in 2020 and further to 2,037 last year.
Similarly, the fraud amount has also increased during the past three years. Cyber criminals swindled Rs 16.18 crore from people in Odisha in 2019. This increased to Rs 35.07 crore in 2020 and further to Rs 40.39 crore in 2021.
It means the amount stolen by cyber crooks increased by nearly 150 percent during a span of just three years.
In total, 5,443 cybercrime cases were registered and Rs 91.65 crore cheated from cyber victims in Odisha in the past three years.
However, recovery has remained poor as the Odisha police managed to recover only Rs 1.37 crore against the cheated amount of Rs 91.65 crore.
The state has been frequently witnessing cybercrimes in recent years. There has also been a rise in such frauds in the state capital Bhubaneswar over the last two years. About 146 cyber crimes were reported from Bhubaneswar urban police district in 2021 as compared to 108 in 2020.
In the maximum number of cases, unidentified cyber crooks took away money from the victims by offering them high returns through different schemes, nude video calls, during online trading, installation of mobile towers and UPI transactions.
In some cases, the victims lost money after clicking on malicious links sent by the cyber criminals to their phones.
In March this year, a case was registered with cyber police that scammers allegedly duped a Keonjhar businessman of Rs 2.35 crore by luring him with the promise of high returns for a life insurance policy he had bought.
In another tragic case, a bank manager from Subarnapur district allegedly committed suicide after being blackmailed by a cyber gang from Rajasthan.
One of the gang members made a nude video call to the bank official and later threatened to implicate him in a pornography case. They extorted Rs 26 lakh in 40 transactions from the bank official who jumped off a bridge into Ang river on August 10 after being unable to meet the demands of the gang.
A cyber expert said that one hour from the deduction of money to cyber fraud is treated as a golden hour, during which the victim has to inform the authorities to get back the lost money.
To curb the rising cybercrimes, a cyber crime cell has been opened in the office of superintendents of police while cyber police stations have been opened at 14 places.
Training is being given to police officers who are investigating cybercrimes, MoS for Home, Tusharkanti Behera stated in a recent reply in the Odisha assembly.
A cyber forensic laboratory has been functioning in Bhubaneswar since November 22, 2017. People can lodge complaints online through the national cybercrime reporting portal www.cybercrime.gov.in.
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) on investigation of objectionable viral picture videos in social media and seizure of digital devices have been issued to the SPs, he said.