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FIA received 95,567 cybercrime complaints in 2021

By Salman Aslam & Noman Wahab
January 01, 2022

LAHORE:FIA Cyber Crime Wing received 95,567 complaints from all around Pakistan in the year 2021.

The main target of Cyber Crime Wing (CCW) during 2021 was to tackle the issues of women modesty protection, child pornography and cyber fraud. CCW achieved tremendous success.

Pakistan like the rest of the world is neither unfamiliar nor immune from the phenomenon of cybercrime. This can be backed by the fact that this year as well the number of cybercrime complaints has risen significantly compared to 84,764 complaints in 2020.

Talking to The News, FIA Director Operations of the Cyber Crime Wing Babar Bakht Qureshi said CCW is designing category-based strategies to combat cyber crimes and it has also been putting its officers through various capacity-building trainings and investing in technological competence, skills and research.

He said, “The major categories of complaints pertain to financial fraud, online blackmailing and harassment, defamation, child pornography and hate speech. Specialised cells have been established in each category to prevent, investigate and prosecute these crimes. On the directions of FIA DG Dr Sanaullah Abbasi Cyber Crime Wing is working with academia, civil society, the media and community-based organisations to raise public awareness in an attempt to protect them from cybercrime victimization.”

At least 25pc of the total reported complaints received during 2021 pertain to financial crimes. Babar said that the availability of phony SIMs is the most prominent tool used in the commission of cyber-related financial frauds in Pakistan. They are activated through fake thumb prints using Silicon papers. Call/SMS, email, WhatsApp, facebook, spoofed websites and skimming devices are all the different mediums that a fraudster uses. The most common modes of transfer are branchless banking, IBFT, ATM, Credit Card and crypto currency. In 2021 only, more than 60,000 fake activated SIMs, 6,700 Silicon thumb impressions and 3,000 Silicon sheets were recovered from different parts of the country, during the active crackdown initiated by the FIA Cybercrime Wing.

During 2021, 427 FIRs were registered and 388 arrests were made. When asked about the measures being taken by the FIA to tackle this ever-growing crime, he added that a list of bank fraudsters is being handed over to the State Bank of Pakistan. Another downside of the expansion of the internet is that its growth has brought about parallel growth in the child pornography market as well. These online communities have provided a medium to child pornography offenders for communication and collaboration. Over 49 FIRs have been registered, 52 arrests have been made, while hundreds of enquiries are in progress. Director Operations Babar while shedding light on this issue said that in order to tackle this heinous crime and avoid child rape, FIA Cybercrime Wing has prepared a list of sex offenders. Almost 20 percent of the total complaints in2021 pertain to online blackmailing and harassment over social media/internet. 267 FIRs were registered and 185

arrests made with regards to online blackmailing during 2021. While, 199 FIRs were registered and 187 arrests made concerning online harassment.