In a proactive move to combat the surge in online fraud, the Kerala police have issued a stern demand to shut down over 2,000 bank accounts used for swindling crores of rupees from the state’s residents through loan apps, online malpractice, and OTP frauds. This significant initiative serves as a critical step toward curbing cybercrimes and ensuring the safety of online transactions.
The Kerala police have submitted reports to mainstream banks across the country, urging the closure of accounts linked to fraudulent activities. These accounts served as conduits for siphoning off ill-gotten money from the state’s residents since 2021. Typically, banks take swift action to freeze and close accounts when law enforcement agencies provide compelling evidence, and the police have requested that these accounts be terminated within seven days of receiving their formal request.
Out of the 2,000 targeted accounts, 70 are situated within Kerala. These accounts, upon investigation, were found to have been handed over to third parties for operation, often in exchange for a fixed monthly fee. They played a pivotal role in facilitating various online fraud rings.
The remaining accounts are dispersed across states, with a significant number located in Chhattisgarh and Delhi. In a troubling revelation, it was discovered that villagers were coerced into opening accounts in their names, which were then exploited by criminal networks to execute their fraudulent schemes. This elaborate network of accounts was instrumental in the execution of cybercrimes.
The Kerala Police’s cyber operations wing anticipates that the mass closure of these accounts will lead to a substantial reduction in cyber cheating instances within the state. This resolute action underscores the police’s commitment to safeguarding citizens from online fraud.
As part of the crackdown on cyber fraud, 117 out of the 177 loan apps that were used to defraud and blackmail individuals in Kerala, and were available on Google Play Store, have already been banned. However, the owners of 60 apps operating from abroad have failed to comply with the police directive. Consequently, legal action is being pursued under Section 69(A) of the Central Information Act to curtail their illicit activities.
The collective efforts of the police and the media in raising awareness about online scams have yielded positive results. Previously, the state witnessed an average daily loss of Rs 50 lakh due to online rip-offs. Thanks to increased awareness and vigilance among the public, this figure has now significantly reduced to an average daily loss of Rs 15 lakh. This indicates a positive shift in the fight against cyber fraud.