Cyprus steps up measures to fight internet fraud in the digital age

The rapid expansion and use of the Internet, along with the digitization of almost all available information on the planet, has also led to a huge increase in the number of transactions that take place electronically on a daily basis over the past two decades. Internet fraud cases.

The term “Internet fraud” generally includes cybercrime that occurs over the Internet or via email, including crimes such as phishing, impersonation, credit card and identity theft, and designed to extort money from people or businesses. Other hacking activities are involved.

The worldwide dependence of businesses and people online creates new opportunities for cybercriminals. According to Interpol officials, cybercriminals have been developing and increasing their attacks at an alarming rate since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Today, the Internet has become one of the most popular means of committing fraud. Internet scams targeting victims through online services cost millions of dollars in fraudulent activity each year, and this figure will continue to rise as Internet use increases and cybercriminals become more sophisticated. Since cybercriminals work with stolen identity and bank account information (name, address, credit card number), it is often difficult for authorities to trace them. It is clear that such stolen data is used by them to plan and commit further crimes.

In Cyprus, the Ministry of Justice and Public Order along with the Cypriot Police are the authorities responsible for the prevention and fight against cybercrime. The police have a special cyber crime subdivision which is responsible for effective detection of cyber crime.

However, the Cyprus Police’s specialized agency for cybercrime investigation is the Cyber ​​Crime Office (OCC), which is responsible for investigating crimes committed via the Internet or computer.

The OCC works closely with EU authorities and third countries on the basis of bilateral and multilateral agreements, which include, among other things, Europol (EC3), Interpol, the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), the European Commission and many others.

relevant legal framework

Cyprus has a comprehensive legislative framework on cybercrime.

Law 22(III)/2004
This law ratifies the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime and covers hacking, child pornography and fraud through electronic communications and the Internet. The Convention is the first international convention on crimes committed on the Internet.

The main objective is to implement a common criminal justice policy aimed at protecting society against cybercrime, in particular the adoption of appropriate legislation and the promotion of international cooperation.

Law 147(i)/2015
This law enforces Directive 2013/40/EU on attacks against information systems. The objectives of the Directive are to converge the criminal law of Member States in the field of attacks against information systems by establishing minimum rules regarding the definition of criminal offenses and related sanctions, and to improve cooperation between competent authorities, including the police.

Other specialized law enforcement services of Member States, as well as competent specialized trade union agencies and bodies, such as Eurojust, Europol and its European Cybercrime Centre, and the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA).

Role of Cyprus courts

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of new Internet fraud cases brought before Cyprus civil courts and it is encouraging to see that Cyprus civil courts have shown a willingness to engage and keep pace with cybercriminals.

This is encouraging as it is of utmost importance that courts contribute to the fight against cybercrime. Otherwise, scammers hiding behind the veil of anonymity or false identities will always be one step ahead and the imbalance that exists between victims and cybercriminals will never be addressed.

After handling several Internet fraud cases for customers (usually large companies that have been victims of hackers, impersonations, and the like), the stolen funds were immediately transferred to multiple bank accounts (usually those owned by foreign entities).

Moving in is very common. Various jurisdictions around the world. In such situations, courts can assist by issuing freezing orders to ensure that stolen funds are not further disposed of, as well as by Norwich Pharmacal against banks to ascertain the identity of the account holder(s). for. In situations where the funds have already been further disinfected, the court may issue a search warrant to track the funds.

In a recent Internet fraud (counterfeiting) case, the Nicosia court upheld: a freezing order and a gag order against the bank, while the Norwich Pharmacal order was to be investigated by Interparts.

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