Income Tax fraud: Unveiling phishing schemes and legal remedies

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New Delhi, Jan 21 (IANS) Cyber Crime has now become a genre of crime which is growing at a dangerous pace. With a mobile phone/gadget in every hand, one is not only open to myriad possibilities but is also on the receiving end of nefarious activities done by others who misuse the boon of technology.

“You have been approved a tax refund of Rs 15,490/- the amount will be credited to your account number 5xxxxx6755. If this is not correct, please update your bank account information by visiting the link below.”

This is an example of the new phishing scam wherein users receive messages of income tax return refunds followed by a wrong bank account number and fall prey to disclosing their personal information.

Edited excerpts from an interview with Vediccaa Ramdannee, Advocate, Anantam Legal

IANS: How do fraudsters exploit personal data, leading to scams where individuals are deceived into paying hefty amounts?

Ramdanee: This personal data is then misused by such fraudsters who cheat unsuspecting individuals of their hard-earned money by posing as officials from the Income Tax Department pointing out irregularities in their returns and in turn asking them to pay fines.

IANS: What precautionary measures can individuals adopt to safeguard themselves from potential scams?

Randanee: One can take certain precautions such as reporting the number from which the message has come, not replying to the same, not clicking on any link or attachment and using anti-virus and anti-spyware software in their computers.

According to the Income Tax Website: “If you receive an email or find a website you think is pretending to be of the Income Tax Department, forward the email or website URL to A copy may also be forwarded to You may forward the message as received or provide the Internet header of the email. The Internet header has additional information to help us locate the sender. After you forward the email or header information to us, delete the message.”

However, more often than not, good sense does not prevail and one succumbs to the bait of these cyber criminals.

IANS: What legal actions can individuals take in India, and how do the Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act offer remedies?

Ramdanee: The remedies one can have are to proceed and make a complaint under the Indian Penal Code,1860 and Information Technology Act, 2000 such as under Sections 415 (Cheating), 416 (Cheating by Personation), 418 (Cheating with knowledge that wrongful loss may ensue to person whose interest offender is bound to protect), 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 425 (Mischief) as well as Section 66 (Computer related offences) and 66-D (Punishment for cheating by personation by using computer resource) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

IANS: How do the challenges associated with investigating criminal networks contribute to the complexity of law enforcement efforts in addressing cybercrimes?

Ramdanee: At times it is difficult to tap into the intrinsic network these criminals have created and which requires extensive follow-up of the CDRs in cases of conspiracy (punishable under Section 120 B of the IPC, 1860) and tracing of the computer source involved as in some cases even the dark-web is involved which is a completely different ball game.

IANS: In addressing the complexity of cybercrimes and financial frauds, how crucial is the establishment of specialised committees and law enforcement teams?

Ramdanee: To peel off the many layers, specialised committees and teams in the law enforcement are the need of the hour so that the money trail does not run cold and more issue specific stringent laws be formulated.

IANS: How does the perceived inadequacy of punishments underscore the need for a revamp?

Ramdanee: One thing is certain that the punishments provided in the aforementioned sections cannot act as a deterrent and more often than not bail is also easily granted in such matters on the basis of the fact that investigation is incomplete and trial will take a substantial amount of time. A revamp of the punitive aspect is also imperative.



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