Twitter handles give police edge in fighting cyber crime
The Mumbai Police’s Twitter handle, which was set up one-and-a-half years ago, has given a boost to inter-agency cooperation in fighting cyber crime.
The Mumbai Police set up its Twitter handle — @MumbaiPolice — in December 2015 along with the Twitter handle of the Mumbai Police Commissioner, @CPMumbaiPolice. It’s tweets, including daily puns regarding laws and law enforcement, made it wildly popular. @MumbaiPolice now boasts 3.89 million followers, while @CPMumbaiPolice has 2.36 million followers.
Police officials said that the handle receives scores of complaints every day. Common complaints include calls from people claiming to be representatives of banks who try to con citizens into revealing sensitive bank account details such as debit card and credit card PIN numbers.
An officer with the Cyber Department of Mumbai Police said, “We have observed that in a lot of instances, citizens tweet the numbers from which they get the calls. These numbers are sent to us by the web cell, which operates the Twitter account. We immediately set about obtaining details about these numbers.”
Database of numbers
The officer added that over the last one year, the police have built a database of numbers from which such calls are made. These numbers are routinely shared with police departments in other cities and States.
The officer said, “Most of these numbers are found to be registered in cities like Noida and Gurugram. We are in regular touch with the police departments in these cities. We also scan our database every time we get a complaint regarding cases of fraud. We check if the accused are operating using the numbers already registered in our database.”
Police departments in other cities also use the databases to check if any of the numbers figure in their own investigations.
Around a year ago, the Cyber police launched a 24×7 helpline for reporting cyber crime cases. Another officer said, “Taking action against offenders requires the victim to file a complaint as per law. Information on these numbers helps us keep tabs on them and gain insight into the scale at which such scams are being run.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber) Akbar Pathan said, “While we can not reveal specifics of action taken in such matters, the information regarding the numbers used by such offenders is indeed taken note of and all necessary action is taken.”
Apart from cyber crime, the Twitter handle has also bolstered the enforcement of traffic rules in the city. The Hindu on August 10 had reported how complaints received via Twitter had led to a steep rise in the number of cases registered against traffic rule offenders in Mumbai.