Asian Insider

India's scam central: Inside villages of cyber cheats

India has seen a surge in cybercrimes amid improved Internet connectivity and increased unemployment exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cybercrimes in recent years have moved beyond urban areas to rural parts where avenues for employment are limited.

The Straits Times travelled to villages in the interiors of central and eastern India to look at the growing problem.

India's rural youth susceptible to scammers' recruitment

In the agricultural fields surrounding Thalpos village in India's eastern state of Bihar, a lucrative business had emerged.

Young men were often seen gathered under trees in the fields or in sheds made for groundwater wells for hours on end, busy on their mobile phones and laptops.

They appeared to be earning extra money freelancing as telemarketers.

Instead, they were allegedly cogs in the wheel of a well thought out but not particularly sophisticated cyber crime racket.


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India’s Jamtara is notorious for its ‘phishing’ scams. Authorities are making efforts to change its image through enforcement and education. ST’s India correspondent Debarshi Dasgupta reports.

Cleaning up India's 'phishing hub' with enforcement and education

Shubham Wadavkar received a suspicious WhatsApp message one evening in late June. The sender threatened to cut off his power supply in just a few hours because of pending payments.

The sender, who claimed to be a representative of his electricity firm, even included a phone number for Mr Wadavkar to get in touch with to clear his dues.

The 28-year-old photographer in Mumbai promptly identified it as a phishing scam. It was easy - he lives in a rented flat and the electricity connection he uses is not under his name but his landlord's. The scammers had hit a wall.

Aiming to alert others with details of the scam on social media, he called back to find out if the sender even knew the location of the connection or his name.


5 types of scams plaguing Asia

Scammers across Asia are ingenious, deploying a wide range of ideas and technologies to extract the hard-earned money of unsuspecting individuals.

Here's a look at some of the popular tricks.


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