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Covid-19 gagging cybercrime victims

  • Published at 09:22 pm July 24th, 2020
cyber crime
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Over a hundred cases filed with various police stations since shut down of Cyber Tribunal in April

Cybercrime was already notoriously under-reported before the Covid-19 pandemic, and now the outbreak of the novel coronavirus is posing another barrier to victims.

A total of 2,386 cases have been filed with Bangladesh’s lone Cyber Tribunal in Dhaka since it was launched seven years ago. Just three were filed in 2013, followed by 33 in 2014, 152 in 2015, 233 in 2016, 568 in 2017, 676 in 2018, 721 in 2019.  

From January to March this year, 111 cases were filed with the tribunal before it was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic in April. From April to June, a further 108 cybercrime cases were filed with various police stations across Dhaka, according to the registrar of the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court.

Md Nazrul Islam Shamim, special public prosecutor of the Cyber Tribunal, told Dhaka Tribune cases filed over digital crimes had increased by many-fold in the last few years and the tribunal is now dealing with thousands of cases.

According to a recent survey by the Cyber Crime Awareness Foundation (CCAF), women are most vulnerable to cybercrimes and make up 68% of the victims. 

About 80% of cybercrime victims do not report the cases to law enforcement agencies while 63% of victims do not know how to seek help.

Of those who sought legal help, 73.1% did not get satisfactory results as per their expectations, said the report.

Cyber Crime Awareness Foundation (CCAF) President Kazi Mostafiz said cybercrimes are increasing rapidly with the rising number of internet and social media users in the country.

He suggested the government and NGOs carry out mass awareness drives to curb digital crimes.

DMP’s Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Najmul Islam said cybercrimes had increased sharply with the increased use of internet data amid the pandemic.

“We are getting 15-20 allegations every day relating to cybercrimes,” he said.

ADC Najmul also said: “We are 100% capable of handling the cases with modern technology, but there is a need for more skilled manpower in the cybercrime division of police as these crimes are on the rise by the day.”

In an incident this year, Sirajul Islam Sajib, a former employee of Aarong, captured video clips of five female colleagues while they were using the changing rooms of an Aarong outlet in Dhaka. He then used the clips to blackmail the girls in various ways.

On January 11, Sirajul sent a video clip of one of the girls to her through Facebook. He threatened to make the video public if she did not expose herself to him on a video call.

After the victim filed a complaint, DMP’s cyber security and crimes division caught Sajib and found the video clips of her and four other female employees of Aarong.

Highlights

80% of cybercrime victims do not report the crimes

721 cases filed with Cyber Tribunal last year

63% of victims do not know how to seek help

73.1% did not get satisfactory results from legal action

Police receiving 15-20 cybercrime allegations per day