CIB warns of rising cybercrime

CIB warns of rising cybercrime

Scammers swindle huge amounts of money by tempting victims with investment scams

A crime assessment by the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) indicates that cybercrime activities will spike this year as people increasingly rely on the internet due to the pandemic.

CIB commissioner Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej said that while many countries including Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore saw their general crime figures fall last year, cybercrime has been on the rise.

Most people in Thailand used to regard this as a distant danger due to their lack of familiarity with the threat posed by "hackers, spyware, malware or the dark web," Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said.

But as more people have been shopping online and spending more time on the internet over the past two years, police have received many more reports of identity theft, ransomware, financial fraud, hacking, spam mail and phishing attacks, he said.

Criminals use modern technologies and communication techniques to swindle money from victims, leading to romance scams, Ponzi schemes, voice phishing (vishing) and cyber warfare.

"Anywone can be a victim of cybercrime. The issue cannot be neglected any more." — Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, CIB Commissioner

"Digital technology and the internet are important parts of our lives. Almost everyone has a smartphone or a computer connected to the internet. Therefore anyone can be a victim of cybercrime. The issue cannot be neglected any more," he said.

Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop projected that online fraud, romance and investment scams would rise this year.

Police will also face challenges as it takes longer to track down suspects online, potentially giving them enough opportunity to change their earnings into other assets to evade capture.

"Although the format of these crimes is always changing, the basic foundation is always the same -- to exploit human greed," said Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop.

Cyber scammers swindle huge amounts of money, for example, by tempting victims with investment scams offering exorbitant dividends and returns of 50%.

The victims usually receive their first few payments, to lure them into investing even more, before they end up losing everything.

Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said people should realise that in reality, it is rare for a legal business to guarantee such high returns.

To keep closer tabs on cyber scams, he has been compiling a detailed database since he took over as commander of the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) in 2019.

He intends to establish a data centre for police to access and analyse data related to cybercrime including crime statistics and other information collected from every arrest. He said he hopes to help revolutionise police work to make solving online crimes easier in the future.

When the system is completed, it will give police a wider perspective. For example, the data may indicate their case is part of a bigger criminal network or identify the types of firearms criminals may use and show high-crime areas.

This will help police commanders set guidelines before raids and take other action to prevent an armed assault, for the safety of residents.

These preventive actions may be as simple as implementing more CCTV cameras, increasing street lights or having more checkpoints.

"Data analysis will improve the performance of the police. We will be able to work faster and prevent or predict crimes more efficiently," he said, adding new algorithms will help analyse the data. "I don't agree with the phrase 'crimes cannot be predicted'," he said. "Sometimes, they can be."

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