The ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) has directed all ministries to tread carefully on Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT), after receiving many complaints related to fraudsters setting up fake government websites to dupe innocent people.
“On analysis of past grievances, it has been observed that many fake agencies or individuals are involved in fraudulent practices in the name of government organisations,” ET reported, citing an advisory to all ministries.
According to the report, MeitY has identified at least six common hi-tech modus operandi being employed by the fraudsters. These include:
- Using names similar to government schemes to create phishing websites
- Using the logo of government schemes with photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and cabinet ministers
- Providing links to government websites to display affiliation to the central government
- Luring people with the promise of government jobs and issuing fake appointment letters and extorting money
- Targeting newly-launched government schemes and trapping people by exploiting their lack of awareness
For instance, the website, egramdigital.co.in, was reportedly used to extort money from people in many states into becoming state partners and distributors of a fake scheme, called ‘Aapka Angootha, Aapka Bank’. This website duped people into making payments for buying biometric devices, the report said.
Similarly, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was misused for false allotment of LPG cylinder distributorship via a fake website, which differed from the government website by just one letter. While the government website was named www.ujjwalayojana.org, the imposter was named www.ujwalayojana.org.
The ministry has suggested awareness schemes, identifying fake schemes and lodging FIRs against them and informing organisations like National Internet Exchange of India.
According to the website, www.dbtbharat.gov.in, select districts across country have been identified to provide DBT for 434 central welfare schemes pertaining to scholarships, women, child and labour welfare, etc. As on FY 2018-19, total DBT stood at more than (INR 135785 Cr), completing over 118 Cr transactions.
Recent reports of grievances from innocent people being duped by misleading websites have posed a serious threat to government welfare schemes.
According to a global cybersecurity leader RSA, India is one of the top three target countries for phishing-and malware-based attacks. The country was the target for about 48 percent of global cyber-attacks between January 1 to March 31, 2018.
Meanwhile banks and agencies reported 16,468 cases of cyber frauds relating to e-payments to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 2015 -16, up from 13,083 in 2014-15. Also, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data showed, that the number of online financial frauds was 12,317 in 2016.
To make matters worse, India has recorded more than 100 security breaches on government portals, including the security breaches related to Aadhaar cards, hacking of the Supreme Court website, and many more. India, in 2017 alone reported 1,579 cases of data breach.
The Indian government has been trying to curb such incidences from long time. Earlier in January this year, the Veerappa Moily-headed Standing Committee on Finance pitched for a robust dispute settlement mechanism to help identify and punish the person responsible for the fraud as well as provide speedy solutions to digital payment users.
Not only this, last year, on September 13, Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired a high-level meeting on how to curb cyber fraud in digital payments. The meeting was attended by officers from the MeITY, Home Ministry, Department of Financial Services, Department of Telecom, Reserve Bank of India and Intelligence Bureau.
As security concerns threaten to derail the government’s “Digital India” push, many states such as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are looking to new age technologies like blockchain to address these problems.