If you think that your personal details are safe with the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra), you’re certain a surprise.
Sensitive data, including key information like your date of birth, genealogy details, and even your fingerprints might be on offer on one among the various WhatsApp groups travel by con artists, and at a price that beggars belief.
The extent of the privacy violations doesn’t stop there, as revealed by a recent investigation by the Federal Investigation Agency. The people that are using personal information to scam unsuspecting individuals even have access to people’s call detail records (CDR).
This data is usually wont to register SIM cards from which these scammers would make calls under false pretences so as to dupe the person on the opposite line, explains Faizullah Korejo, who is a further director for the Sindh and Balochistan region for FIA’s cyber-crime wing.
“During an intensive operation in rural areas of various districts of Punjab province, 16 cyber criminals were booked on seven different counts,” he revealed during a news conference last week.
The action was taken, said Korejo, after an alarming increase within the number of complaints from bank customers against fake callers who introduced themselves as representatives of the depository financial institution , the country’s financial institution , or as members of the soldiers .
Using the knowledge that they had acquired illegally, these conmen tricked bank customers into revealing details of their personal accounts then drained their account during a methodical manner, with one elderly woman form Karachi bereft of almost Rs2 million within a 24-hour period.
“Initial investigations reveals that each one the fake calls were made up of a couple of districts of Punjab, including Gujranwala, Hafizabad and Rahimyar Khan,” he said.
The suspects, currently in FIA custody, revealed that the cell phones used for fake calls were activated using information available on WhatsApp groups.
“I was liable for providing the biometric machines allotted to telephone franchises and Haris, a resident of Sahiwal, was the mastermind,” said Hassam, one among the accused who is from Gujranwala.
He claims that he met Haris on a WhatsApp group, where he was added after an interaction with some others on a Facebook group for ‘golden numbers’.
“Haris bought the soft fingerprints of citizens on an equivalent WhatsApp group where I first found him. He would then inquire from me to supply the biometric machine to a 3rd individual,” says Hassam, claiming he was unaware of what they did with it next.
According to another official who may be a a part of the investigation, the accused are holding back key information but the investigators remain confident of connecting the dots. “This is that the tip of the dark web substitute that’s thriving in Pakistan,” he says, adding that they’re watching the nexus of criminals within government agencies also as employees of cellular companies and banks who could possibly be working with the conmen.
“Currently, we’ve people in custody who appear to be small fry and therefore the middlemen, employed by the large fish as a layer to hide their involvement,” he says.
A Nadra official, when asked about the possible breach, expressed surprise. “Stolen fingerprints are quite concerning. it’s the only responsibility of the centralized Data Protection Center located in Islamabad,” he said while requesting anonymity. “The matter in question is out of my jurisdiction.”