News9 Plus’ investigative documentaries expose online scams

News9 Plus’ investigative documentaries expose online scams

It features two topical documentaries on ‘Sextortion’ and ‘Hackers for Hire’.

News9 Plus

Mumbai: As part of its year-end programming, News9 Live presents ‘Devil in my Phone’, a special series featuring investigative stories of News9 Plus journalists Gulam Jeelani and Shantasree Sarkar, who uncover the dark truths behind the menace of online sextortion and cybercrime rackets.

‘Devil in my Phone’ is available on News9 Plus, the world’s first news OTT, and is a brutal and unflinching look at the dark underbelly of the internet in India. Featuring two episodes – ‘Sextortion’ and ‘Hackers for Hire’, it explores the reasons behind the rise in this insidious new-age financial fraud, and the response by victims and law enforcement.

In ‘Hackers for Hire’, Shantasree Sarkar interviews online financial fraud victims, police officials and a real-life black hat hacker. Starting with the seemingly innocuous origins of these crimes – a SIM card, a smartphone and basic training, the documentary uncovers the full extent of the damage, to the tune of a shocking Rs 239 crore from the state of Rajasthan alone.

Casting much-need light on the other dark corner of this phenomenon, Gulam Jeelani takes a close look at the sinister mechanisms employed by ‘Sextortion’ scamsters, including the use of pornography, fake videos and the threat of social exposure, to defraud unsuspecting victims of lakhs of rupees. While law enforcement struggles to react in time, victims of sextortion are often driven to bankruptcy or suicide, fearing the social repercussions of public knowledge about the incident.

Both documentaries converge on one bizarre but indisputable fact: more than half of all reported cyber-crimes in India originate from the Mewat region, near the national capital Delhi. Speaking for the episode ‘Hackers for Hire’, Ravi Prakash Meharda, the Director General of Police, Cyber Crime in Rajasthan breaks down the moving parts of this well-oiled machine, from the sourcing of SIM cards from across the country, to the advantageous natural topography of the region, and finally to the installation and use of ATMs in the villages where cyber criminals use their ill-gotten gains for personal ends.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect that ‘Devil in my Phone’ lays bare is that even law enforcement officials are not safe. Amit Dubey, a cyber security expert and the head of Product Security at Dream11, recounts in the episode ‘Sextortion’ how over 150 law enforcement officers in UP have been victims of sextortion in the last year alone.

In fine detail, the two episodes of ‘Devil in my Phone’ unearth the facts to put in focus a worrisome picture – there are over 2000 cyber-crime complaints lodged in India on a daily basis, with 42% of Indians having fallen prey to such crimes in the last three years. In sextortion cases, fewer than one percent of incidents are actually reported, due to the social stigma it carries.

Featuring appearances from Deputy Commissioner of Delhi Police Prashant Gautam, cyber psychologist and V4WEB director Nirali Bhatia, cyberlaw expert Karnika Seth and Nuh Superintendent of Police Varun Singla, among others, ‘Devil in my Phone’ brings to the fore a pressing issue at a time when India’s internet-using population is at the highest it has ever been, with a steady uptick in the number of users expected in coming years.

Both episodes of ‘Devil in my Phone’ were also broadcast on News9 Live, the 24x7 live streaming platform that represents TV9 Network’s connected-TV offering as part of the News9 Mediaverse.

‘Devil in my Phone’ can be watched on News9 Plus: