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Fake account most exploited tactic in cybercrime

By A Staff Reporter,Kathmandu, Nov. 30: In the six months from April 14, 2022, which marked the beginning of a new year in Nepal, until October 17, 2022, 3,093 cases of cybercrime were recorded from across the country.

According to Cyber Bureau of Nepal Police, the majority of cybercrimes were related to hacking and blackmailing. Many individuals even suffered from both.

On Monday night, this reporter himself received a message on Instagram from a fake account by the name ‘Amrita KC’. 

The message stated that a reward of Rs. 50,000 would be provided if the numbers inside an optical illusion were guessed correctly. 

When guessed correctly, which is easy even for a child, the account asked which transaction method would the reporter prefer and said any payment option would be accepted.

After selecting an option, KC sent a photo of a receipt that the amount was sent to the requested payment gateway.

Then, as cheaters do online, the account asked for a confirmation. Pandering to their demand inevitably leads to being cheated. 

Victims have been cheated by being asked some amount of tax clearance or an OTP (One Time Password) or in this reporter’s case, to register their given email into the ‘Personal Information’ section of Instagram. If the email is registered, the account is hacked.

After hacking, victims are blackmailed. Even more, the hacked account is used to ask for money from people in its friend list by faking as the user.

A journalist from Baahrakhari, an online news portal, on Sunday, posted a status explaining how his co-workers were subjected to hacking on Facebook.

The journalists were asked for a code they received on their mobile number through a SMS. The code is asked on the pretext for help from a known but hacked Facebook account. The code would be an OTP to change the password of the respective individual’s Facebook account.

According to the Cyber Bureau, victims are also falling prey to some online e-commerce portals. The customers buying goods through such portals are first asked to pay before delivery, which then results in the goods not being delivered.

“There are a host of ways to cheat people online. We request public to not fall for any assurances,” read a notice signed by Superintendent of Police (SP) Pashupati Kumar Ray, deputy director at the bureau.

The notice, which was published on Monday, states that people should never share any type of OTP they receive on their mobile phone with any other individual.

Police officers also argued that many individuals are exploiting such nefarious tricks by creating fake accounts, which he says is an easy job. Concerned authorities also lack resources to tackle such online crimes.

Such crimes, however, are easier to be prevented, said officials. According to them, nobody would gift money for free to anyone. Police have also requested the public to inform such cases to nearby police station in person or by messaging them through social media.

Since many people are unaware about the lurking dangers of the internet, authorities have stressed the need of intensifying awareness about how to safely use the internet. 

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