Seeking immunity from cybercrime
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Seeking immunity from cybercrime

Number of online offences 'almost as high as drug cases'

Cybercrime today has become alarmingly advanced as criminals keep coming up with new ways to scam victims.

The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) is warning against fast-evolving cyber threats, saying that clicking on a wrong link could lead to your bank accounts being emptied by scammers. Meanwhile, the Cyber Crimes Investigation Division (CCID) has recently launched a campaign to immunise people against online risks.

CIB commissioner Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej said that scammers today use different online links and malicious applications as tools to extract money from people.

He says there are five types of scamming links. The first is used to siphon money from the victim's account through fake links, mimicking a government agency.

Victims are tricked into transferring money through these links, for example, to pay utility bills or install an application for financial transactions.

Chatpunthakarn Klaiklueng

The second type of scam is duping people into disclosing their personal and financial information, including their login credentials, through fake websites that look almost similar to authentic ones.

The third type is investment scam websites, where victims are tricked into participating in financial schemes that promise high returns over a short period. The scammers use pictures of reputable companies and people to enhance a scheme's credibility.

The fourth type is links that lead people to online gambling, both real and fake sites. People who gamble on these sites will lose not just their money but also be charged for participating in illegal gambling activities, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said.

The last one is loan links by which the victims are scammed into paying fees for applying for loans, which turn out to be fake.

CYBER 'VACCINE' on offer

Pol Maj Gen Chatpunthakarn Klaiklueng, commander of the Cyber Crimes Investigation Division 1 (CCID1), said the current number of online crimes in Thailand is almost as high as that of drug cases.

From March 2022 to April this year, 504,616 cybercrime cases were reported in the country, causing 68 billion baht in damage. Of that amount, only 5.9 billion baht has been retrieved.

He added the victims of online fraud are usually pensioners and retired people. Some were reported to have lost not just a few million baht but up to 100 million baht to scammers.

As a result, the CCID1 commander said the public needs to be given a "cyber vaccine".

So, the CCID1 has launched a campaign to prevent cyber threats through citizens' participation.

The campaign, which is part of King Prajadhipok Institute's Higher Diploma in Politics and Governance in Democracy for Senior Executives (Por Por Ror 27), aims to recruit volunteers to help spread awareness about cyber security and prevent people from becoming victims of online scams.

A pilot project for the campaign was conducted recently in partnership with Rajamangala University of Technology Rattanakosin's Bophit Phimuk Chakkrawat Campus.

The seven-month project, which wrapped up in April, saw 30 university students selected for their cyber intelligence as envoys, who would spread their knowledge and ways to avoid cyber risks with others, starting with their families and friends.

"We cannot afford to have vulnerable people uninoculated or unprotected against cybercrime anymore. We need to address the issue with specific targets, especially the elderly," Pol Maj Gen Chatpunthakarn said.

While authorities are constantly advocating against online criminals through various media, the effort still requires more cooperation from the public. "The best way to prevent cybercrimes is by using young volunteers who are exposed more to information online," he said.

The CCID1 commander said the government created the AOC in November last year as a one-stop service to freeze transactions made through illegal financial accounts.

It is a joint effort between the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, the CCID, the CIB, the Anti-Money Laundering Office, the Thai Bankers Association and mobile network providers, he said.

The cyber vaccine campaign, he said, has been a success and showed that solving cybercrime problems should begin with creating awareness and understanding within communities or organisations.

"We are planning to introduce the campaign to other universities and expand our focus to every age group," he said.

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