Dramatic increase in cybercrime in Valley

KATHMANDU:The recent surge in cybercrime has been linked to a rise in the number of Internet users and access to social networking sites, posing a threat to people’s personal security, dignity and identity in the recent time.

SSP Bijay Lal Kayastha, in-charge of the Metropolitan Police Crime Division, conceded that cybercrime was emerging as one of the major challenges for police force in maintaining law and order, especially in the Kathmandu Valley, which accounts for most of the Internet users in the country.

According to statistics of the MTPD, as many as four cases of cybercrime were reported in the fiscal year 2009-10, which climbed to 45 in 2010-11 and 85 in 2012-13. “We have already dealt with nearly double cases of cybercrime this fiscal compared to the last year in the Valley. Despite these, all reported cases have been successfully solved,” SSP Kayastha said.

Crime related to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were the largest with 57 incidents reported in 2011-12 compared to 32 in 2010-11. E-mail threat cases, website disputes, web SMS threat, illegal data access, cheating via web mail, obscene website operation and phishing have also increased. The MPCD arrested four people, including a Nigerian national, for operating an international fraud racket by misusing Internet facilities. They had defrauded Raj Kumar Shrestha of Kathmandu of Rs 2.3 million by luring him to collect SMS lottery worth $20 million.

The international racket texted Shrestha saying that his mobile number had won 12 Call-mobile Thailand Mobile Award, which carries a purse worth $20 million before looting the victim of the cash in the name of processing charge. As many as six SMS lottery scams were reported in 2011-12 compared to the previous year.

SSP Kayastha said though police managed to bring many to book, they have been finding it hard to curb cybercrime due to technological constraints.

“We do not have access to data from Google, facebook and yahoo from the concerned offices abroad due to the lack of bilateral treaty on the issue. Therefore, we face difficulties while investigating,” he lamented.

Most of the victims of cybercrime are women. Investigators say they are also ill-equipped to investigate cybercrime. It is not possible for police to bring the guilty to book until and unless a victim categorically identifies the suspect in a complaint.

According to police, some create fake webpages of banks, which look similar to original ones and try to get people’s user names, passwords and bank account numbers. SSP Kaystha cautioned all concerned to be more cautious about privacy and safety before accepting friendship requests and reacting to messages from unknown persons on social networking sites.

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