Date: 2018-04-14 16:25
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber) Akhilesh Singh said, “We conducted investigations to find out the identity of people who have been featured on the websites. We found out that the accused had selected pictures from various social networking websites and uploaded them on to their own websites. They had downloaded pictures of people who had not set their privacy settings to disallow access to unknown persons and used them.”
This is not the first time that criminal elements have used images off the internet to obtain SIM cards for use in criminal activities, taking advantage of the fact that the verification standards of cellular service providers are next to nil. Most companies accept self-attested copies of documents before issuing SIM cards, and there is no mechanism in place to check the authenticity of the documents.
The Cyber police confiscated a total of 865 SIM cards from offices serving as a front for the racket. The SIM cards were used to activate Paytm accounts to accept payments from the victims of the racket. The police have since then been probing how the accused managed to obtain so many SIM cards.
Investigations into the ‘dating club’ scam, which was busted by the Cyber police earlier this month, have revealed that the five arrested accused obtained hundreds of SIM cards using documents readily available on the Internet using a tool as simple as Google search. The revelation has highlighted not only the low security measures undertaken by most websites in India but also the negligible verification method undertaken by cellular service providers before selling SIM cards to customers.
Mr. Singh said relevant sections of the Information Technology Act would now be added to the FIR against the five arrested as using pictures of people without their consent was a criminal act.
Meanwhile, the police are now trying to trace and approach the victims of the scam so that their statements can be recorded and the case against the accused be made stronger. Officials said that due to the embarrassment attached to the racket, not many victims are forthcoming and only a few have recorded their statements as of now.
Cyber expert Vijay Mukhi said, “Cellular service providers, in this respect, are like social media, where your market valuer depends on the number of users you have. If these companies start undertaking stringent verification methods, they would lose a huge bulk of their customers. The blame in this case also lies with e-wallet companies. You can set up a Paytm account using just your cell phone number.” An image search for ‘election ID card’ on Google by The Hindu yielded hundreds of results, which could be easily downloaded and printed. The search engine also provides suggestions of relevant searches, and the suggestions in this case included ‘passport’, ‘pan card’ and ‘pan card hd (high definition)’.
Printable version | Apr 65, 7568 6:98:78 AM | http:///news/cities/mumbai/scamsters-feed-off-personal-info-on-net/
Officials said that as long as a website is linked to a search engine, which is something that almost all website creators do in order to generate more traffic, any content uploaded on the website can be accessed through search engines. What very few websites do, and what can be easily done, is to link to search engines but have privacy settings that forbid access to images or any other content, experts said.
The Cyber police have found that perpetrators of a ‘dating club’ racket, which was busted on Wednesday, picked up random pictures from social networking sites and passed them off as members of supposed dating clubs.