Mathura is UP's own Jamtara
Jamtara, the city in Jharkhand that is known as the phishing capital of India, has extended its boundaries.
The maximum cyber crime cases are now being reported from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, apart from Bharatpur in Rajasthan and Mewat in Haryana.
In the past few months, this triangle of cities seem to have specialized in blackmail based on deepfakes.
The Cyber Cell of the UP Police is investigating at least 400 such cases.
Superintendent of Police, Cyber Cell Triveni Singh says the fraudsters superimpose frames of their male targets on porn clips using this technology.
"After creating fake porn videos, they call up the targets and blackmail them for money, anywhere in the range of Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000. Some of them speak fluent English to trap people from well-off families in cities like Mumbai and Kolkata," he said.
A Lucknow-based businessman was recently targeted in a "sextortion" attempt. Soon after accepting a woman's friend request on social media, he received a WhatsApp video call from her.
During the 15-second call, she snared him with seductive gestures and words. Minutes later, the businessman received another call to cough up Rs 30 lakh or see his conversation with the woman leaked on social media. The accused were traced and arrested in Mewat.
In the past one year, nearly 300 people, including a senior PCS officer, have approached the Cyber Cell with similar sextortion complaints. There have also been cases of people being duped while making online transactions on e-commerce sites and online marketplaces, which is the most common form of cyber fraud.
Singh said: "Fraudsters keep an eye on online marketplaces like OLX, where people sell their products. They make fake accounts as armymen and pose as buyers. While buying a product they trick the seller into making an online transaction through a QR code."
Another cyber cell officer says sextortion and fraud through e-commerce sites don't involve special skills, unlike the "Jamtara" scams that require engaging with and convincing the target over a longer duration.
"In such cases, criminals use a mobile application to trap their target by either luring them, or through links, or video calling. If a target blocks their number, they use another SIM to contact the person. The third and final stage is to impersonate a policeman and threaten the target," he said.
The scammers do their homework by scanning online advertisements. They win the confidence of people by introducing themselves as personnel from the army or the paramilitary forces. They even give a fake badge number, battalion name, place of posting, their photograph in army uniform and identity card.