Scams haunt netizens in rapid online era

Fikri Zaki Muhammadi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Jakarta | Tue, April 09 2013, 11:26 AM
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Paper Edition | Page: 9

Current online lifestyles have witnessed the increasingly fast spread of information, yet criminal activity on the Internet has also rapidly increased.

Alam Maffian, 25, an employee with a private company in Alam Sutera, Tangerang, said he lost more than Rp 1.5 million (US$154) when he surfed the Internet recently to buy a cat.

“I used the Internet to find cats for sale. I called the number in one of the ads and the man at the other end asked me to pay a down payment,” he told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

After transferring the money as requested, he said the man rejected his further calls. Alam said he had decided not to report his case to police after learning that cyber crime reports were complicated and would mean being sent from one police station to another.

A Depok university student, Ratu Agnes Selvi, 26, said she had lost Rp 4 million after attempting to buy a laptop from the Internet in June last year.

She said she had reported the incident to the Central Jakarta Police and was told to wait for a call from a police cyber crime unit. But she has received no call since then.

“Why does it take so long for the police to find and arrest criminals on the Internet?” she asked, adding that she had come across a large number of similar complaints on the Internet.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said the police were still investigating cyber crime syndicates by tracking suspicious websites.

According to data from the Indonesian Security Incident Response Team on Infrastructure or Coordination Center (id-SIRTII/CC), the number of cyber crimes in Indonesia reached more than 700 in 2012, a rise from around 600 cases two years earlier.

Experts suggest that social media users have become more aware of cyber crime syndicates.

Muhammad Salahuddien, the center’s deputy for network monitoring and security operations, said hackers normally worked according to several patterns, including phishing sites, advance-fee fraud — with which online scammers ask for money by promising a business deal or sharing an inheritance — love bride scams, lotteries and sales of fake products or services to hook their targets.

“The hacker will send a link, which contains a virus, via an email or short text message to steal a target’s data. If an unsuspecting person opens the link, their email account will be hijacked,” Salahuddien said. “The hacker can then steal all the user’s data, including financial information on credit or debit cards and saving accounts.”

Meanwhile, hackers also like to target companies by breaking their security systems through employees’ personal information. Hackers will hijack an employee’s email, spreading a virus throughout the whole system and steal important data.

“This trend is increasing and it’s being improved in line with growth of the number of Indonesians using the Internet. Sadly, awareness [of such practices] among Internet users and service providers remains low,” Salahuddien said.

Budi Sulistyo, a senior consultant and researcher at Sharing Vision, a telematics research company based in Bandung, West Java, said individuals could protect themselves from fraud with the use of passwords and keywords, and changing them frequently.

Besides changing passwords, Budi advises all users of social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to be cautious when making new friends via the Internet.

The Jakarta Police cyber crimes unit unveiled several high-profile cases last year, including one involving a teenager in Depok, West Java, who was kidnapped and repeatedly raped, allegedly by a man she contacted on Facebook.

Rikwanto said the police unit handled 625 cases in 2011, and had recorded 395 cases (including 253 cases of online shopping fraud) as of August 2012. He said the police were also working with Australia, the US, and international organizations, such as Interpol, to track down cyber criminals. (tam)



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