–Sources say people avoid filing online complaints due to slow, time-consuming process
–FIA says process not slow, cybercrime cases are treated differently
LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Lahore registered 5,500 complaints related to cybercrime this year so far, filling the gap in the correlation between cybercrimes and the growing rate of psychological issues among the youth in the provincial capital.
Pakistan Today has learnt that women are not the only victims of online harassment as young men are just as vulnerable, which is a major contributing factor to the increase in psychological issues among the youth. It has been further learnt that there has been a massive increase in the cases of online blackmailing and bank frauds with many people being tricked into revealing their bank account details on the phone, leading to monetary losses. Usually, hackers steal information through the internet and use that information against the victims. Children are most vulnerable to this because of lack of training against protecting themselves on the internet. Other than that, fraudsters call people while impersonating officials and ask for their bank account details which are later used to steal money from their accounts.
Sources revealed that FIA Lahore received more than 5,500 complaints of cybercrimes this year, involving hacking, identity theft, cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking, financial fraud, digital piracy, intellectual property rights violations, electronic terrorism and extortion. Sources also said that FIA had established National Response Centres (NRC), aimed at empowering women so that they could raise their voices against online harassment comfortably. However, sources added, the NRCs were established only in Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Quetta, depriving women in far-flung areas of the opportunity to report online harassment. Sources further said that the process of filing online complaints is slow as 30 to 60 days are usually required to process a complaint because of which many women avoid reporting their issues.
FIA Cybercrime Wing Lahore Assistant Director Muhammad Usman, while talking to Pakistan Today said, “We have received almost 5,500 complaints from Lahore which include complaints about blackmailing, fraud, hacking and piracy among others.”
Talking about harassment complaints received by FIA, he said, “Not only have women filed complaints of harassment against women but men have also spoken up against women who harassed them on social media.”
He said that inquiries have been initiated on more than 2,500 complaints and cases have also been registered, adding that complaints are sometimes withdrawn if the two parties agree to a settlement.
“Sometimes the complaints are dropped when there is no follow-up on them but mostly we initiate inquiries on such complaints. Only a few hundreds of the total registered complaints are still pending,” he said.
Responding to question about the slow process of resolving complaints as suggested by sources, he said, “Our process is not slow. We treat cybercrime cases differently. We collect evidence from different sources, including internet service providers, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and banks. Similarly, the suspect is not always easily identifiable and identifying them is a time-consuming task. Once the information is gathered, we draw a conclusion.”
“We have resolved cases and punished those who were proven to be guilty,” he concluded.