In the digital age, cybercriminals have increasingly targeted Gujarat, as confirmed by the Future Crime Research Foundation (FCRF), an organization led by IIT Kanpur. According to an FCRF white paper, Ahmedabad and Surat are emerging as the nation’s latest cybercrime hubs. The comprehensive report meticulously examined cybercrime incidents reported nationwide from January 2020 to June 2023, uncovering 83 small towns and cities across 18 states rapidly transforming into centers of cybercrime.
The study identified the most common cybercrimes, including online financial fraud, hacking, and impersonation. A senior police officer in Gujarat mentioned the rising occurrences of task-based and mobile-based investment frauds. The study identified three primary reasons behind this concerning trend: inadequate KYC and verification processes, the recruitment and training of unemployed or underemployed individuals, and the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) that grant online anonymity to criminals.
Over the past 16 months, there has been an increase in task-based and mobile app-based investments. The Ahmedabad police have identified gang members engaged in fraudulent activities that have resulted in significant losses for unsuspecting victims. These nationwide gangs, which also have members in Gujarat, are under investigation, according to a senior police official.
In July, a significant investment fraud scheme involving hundreds of crores of rupees was uncovered by the Hyderabad police, with operations spanning Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Hyderabad. Nine individuals were arrested in these three cities, and victims suffered substantial financial losses.
On September 11, a 51-year-old man from Isanpur was defrauded of Rs 2.50 crore through a ‘task fraud.’ The FIR mentioned that Jayesh Vakil was contacted by a woman named ‘Sameeksha’ on Telegram, enticing him with offers of task-related remuneration.
The IIT-Kanpur report also highlighted the emergence of cybercrime hotspots nationwide. West Bengal had the highest number, with 14 towns and cities on the list, closely followed by Uttar Pradesh, with 11 towns, including lesser-known ones like Domakhas Maharajganj and Jevar. The most common types of cybercrime identified in the study were online financial fraud, hacking, and impersonation.
These emerging cybercrime hotspots have become areas of concern, in addition to major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. According to the FCRF report, these hotspots represent regions where digital criminal activities are increasing, catching both law enforcement agencies and the public off guard.