Beware OF Scammers Putting You Under ‘Digital Arrests’! Look Out For These Obvious Signs

Impersonation, Accusation, and Defamation - techniques cyber criminals use to scam people under ‘digital arrest’. Read to find out more.
Beware OF Scammers Putting You Under Digital Arrests
Beware OF Scammers Putting You Under Digital Arrests

Shivank’s father, a resident of Delhi-NCR, received a call last week that his son had been arrested in a molestation scandal. The call with scammers, which went around for 2 hours, duped his father out of Rs 30,000. Earlier this month, the Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (NCRP) stated that it has reported a large number of complaints regarding intimidation, blackmail, extortion, and “Digital Arrests” by cybercriminals posing as Police Authorities, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Narcotics Department, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Enforcement Directorate, customs authorities, and other such Law Enforcement government agencies.

Cybercriminals have devised a new tactic: to scare people by imposing as government officials.

What are Digital arrests?

The digital arrest is a new sophisticated cyber scam where cybercriminals impersonate law enforcement officials or other government authorities. The victims of such frauds are mostly contacted out of the blue usually on instant messaging apps like WhatsApp or directly via call. The scamsters tell people that their bank accounts, digital identities, or other online assets have been compromised or they are being inspected against some legal crime.

The scammers use victims' fear and threaten them with imminent arrest, legal repercussions, or public humiliation if they don't cooperate with their urgent demands.

Digital House Arrest: How Does It Work?

Fraudsters putting people under ‘digital arrests’ play the game of psychological manipulation. Understanding that fear and urgency are powerful tools to cloud an individual’s judgment, the scammers create a fabricated sense of crisis. They pressure victims into taking hasty steps without the chance for clear thought or verification.

Shivank’s father was intimidated by scammers for two hours. During the call he was ‘threatened’ to not call anybody or his son may get ‘into more trouble’.

Here's how cybercriminals typically scam you:

Impersonation: The scammers impersonate law enforcement agents, bank officials, or other government agency figures. They would use forged documents and spoofed phone numbers (these are usually international numbers) to create a convincing facade of legitimacy.

Baseless Accusations: The scammers will weave a story of some serious or heinous crime, usually one that you may have never imagined getting into. Shivank’s father was told that his son had been arrested on a ‘molestation charge’ with some other guys.

Defamation/Slander Technique: On the back of such serious crimes, the scammers will rope you into ‘social defamation’ fear or worse media involvement.

Demands with Threats: Scammers demand you to expose your sensitive information like banking details/credentials, passwords, and personal ID numbers. They will demand you to stay at home ‘not to drop the call’ or else. The criminals will intimidate you into not calling the accused. For example: Knowing that Shivank was at his office, the fraudsters threatened his father to not dial their son’s number or else he would be ‘deeper’ into the trouble.

Cybercriminals will instil fear with threats of arrest, huge penalties, or the release of compromising information, and media exposure.

Once they have got you in the fear territory, the scammers will next lay out the options of an ‘OUT’. Shivank’s father was told that upon investigation the (Noida) Gautam Buddha Nagar Police Officials found that though their son has been arrested about the ‘molestation crime’, he is not directly ‘involved’ and the only way to get him out is to pay a penalty of Rs 60,000 immediately. Out of fear and intimidation, Shivank’s father ended up transferring half the amount (Rs 30,000) via UPI transfer.

Tech Fraud: In many other cases, involving phones, laptops and other devices - scammers often trick victims into downloading remote access software like TeamViewer or AnyDesk, unknowingly giving cybercriminals excess control over their devices.

Interrogation/Setup: Scammers go as far as to build an actual set of government offices (such as police stations) and insist victims stay on video calls while maintaining the illusion of authority. Over call, the scammers presented a ‘crying Shinank’ to the father further scaring the parent into making quick payments.

Remember: This Is Your Way Out

- Law enforcement officials would rarely initiate contact by phone or Whatsapp to intimate you for a crime.

- They would never threaten any immediate arrest or inform you over the call regarding an unforeseen arrest.

- You must hang up the call, go to the nearest police station if needed, or verify through official channels of the said agency.

- Do not share your passwords, PINs, or personal details unless certain of the recipient's legitimacy. Usually, no law enforcement agent will demand you to give personal details, especially one concerning bank credentials, over a video/voice call or Whatsapp.

- Ensure the security of your devices with strong antivirus, firewalls, and regular updates.

- Do not click on any link you get via SMS. Government authorities regularly warn against clicking on any external link that asks you to complete a process, or documentation without any immediate need. Be cautious about downloads or giving remote access.

- Do not panic! This is of most significance since the best tool under cybercriminals' kit is the element of fear.

- You can get additional resources and information on cybersecurity from CISA at

Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C)

The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C), under the Ministry of Home Affairs, is responsible for preventing cybercrime in the country. As of May 2024, I4C in collaboration with Microsoft, has also blocked over 1,000 Skype IDs involved in cybercrime.

I4C is also facilitating blocking of SIM cards, Mobile devices and Mule accounts used by scammers. It has issued multiple alerts through infographics and videos via its social media platform ‘Cyberdost’.

The centre has advised people to be alert and spread awareness about such cyber frauds. If you ever receive such a call, you should immediately report the incident on the cybercrime helpline number 1930 or for help.

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