IMPACT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON CRIME RATE

By Moksha Grover

The Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China was recognized as a pandemic by World Health Organization (WHO). Today, the world is in the fight towards covid wide-ranging consequences. Pandemics have always changed the way human beings interact and covid pandemic is no exception in this case. People are facing collective forms of trauma due to health concerns, negativity caused by the pandemic, loss due to unemployment, false information surfing around social media etc.  Isolation and quarantine increased depression and anxiety among the people. Because of the side effects of the pandemic faced by the people domestic violence, homicide crimes, fraud and trafficking of medicinal products have increased significantly. While, due to lockdown crimes like theft, and robbery has shown a decline.

Domestic physical violence, abuse. Scared little caucasian girl, victim sitting close to a white wall with the shadow of an angry threatening mother with alcohol addiction. Awareness of social problems.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND HOMICIDES CRIME

While the covid pandemic has affected all types of crimes, some crimes have increased and some decreased. It has affected domestic violence and homicide crimes the most. Pandemic has added to the rise in domestic abuse and homicide crime. Due to economic reasons, the victim is forced to remain with the abuser. Some victims get quarantined with the abusers and are prone to sexual assault, partner violence, and child abuse. These people are also left without any access to services.

During the lockdown, many women were trapped in their houses and had to work all day and also become the victims of domestic violence by their husbands.  A study in New Delhi, India shows that by the second week of lockdown domestic violence cases rose from 116 in the first week to 257 in the final week in the month of March[1].  A study by researcher Priyanshi Chauhan found that “approximately 22.5% of married women, as compared to zero men and unmarried women, worked for more than 70 hours per week” during the lockdown[2]. The study also said unemployed women witnessed the highest increase of 30.5 percentage points for those who spent more than 70 hours per week on unpaid work[3].

COUNTERFEITING AND FRAUDS

Counterfeiting and fraud have increased a lot in this covid pandemic. High-demand products during the pandemic, mostly medical products are being counterfeited the most. Virus mitigating products such as face masks, virus test kits, PPT kits etc. worn by frontline workers and medical supplies used for treating COVID-19 patients were also counterfeited. In India, due to the shortage of remdisivir vaccines used for treating covid patients, criminals started selling fake remdisivir injections to people and in return took huge amounts of money from these people.

As the covid-19 pandemic led the way for online shopping, countering in online shopping also rose. Criminals began to exploit a greater use of social media as a medium for sales. The public trusts celebrities and influencers, promote a product and have faith in their recommendations. But this benefit was recognized by criminals and they recruited irresponsible influencers to engage in building interest in cheap and often dangerous fake goods. The covid pandemic is making a way for criminal counterfeiters and increasing the threat to businesses and consumers alike.

CYBERCRIMES

Owing to the shift of focus to a health crisis, cyber defence systems have been lowered. As a result, cybercriminals are attacking the computer networks and systems of individuals, businesses and even global organizations. Cybercriminals have created thousands of new websites for conducting spam campaigns or spreading malware. Various covid-19 maps and websites have been found embedded with malware, spyware and Trojans. Hospitals, medical centres and public institutions are being targeted by cybercriminals for ransomware attacks – since they are overwhelmed with the health crisis and cannot afford to be locked out of their systems, the criminals believe they are likely to pay the ransom[4].

TERRORIST ATTACKS

In comparison with the past, terrorist attacks have been reduced due to the global lockdown. In the past, when in 2013, the emergence of the Islamic state brought a new wave of attacks 2014 in cities around the world[5]. This wave of ISIS terror attacks seems to come to an end now. However, “Coronavirus denier movements” could contribute to the potential of violence since they attracted extremists from various ideological backgrounds[6]. In 2021, may a series of attacks in Afghanistan resulted in the deaths of 56 people[7]. Today, Afghanistan has been conquered by Talibans and now Talibans in association with Al-Qaeda have attacked Panjshir valley, a fight ongoing for two days[8]. Switzerland has warned of terror attacks on Covid vaccine sites[9].

THEORETICAL REASONS FOR THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON CRIME

Overall covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the reduction of crime rates. More stringent restrictions over movement in public spaces due to lockdown have resulted in large declines in crimes like theft, burglary and other types of crimes.  There are mainly 4 causes that have led to a significant decrease in crime rates due to pandemics.

First, restrictions on mobility and reduction in economic and social activities outside of the household leave the criminals with fewer opportunities. These restrictions have also reduced the number of assaults with deadly weapons, robberies, residential burglaries, shoplifting, and thefts as a consequence of a reduced interaction of people in the urban environment. Furthermore, this pandemic has also led to a reduction in the opportunities for potential victims to encounter the potential offender

Second, due to the fear of infection, many criminals have become hesitant to engage in criminal activities. This cause has shown a consequence in the reduction of group crimes. Even if the lockdown is not imposed there are many criminals who do not engage in criminal activities due to the fear of infection.  Various studies propose that the lockdowns specifically lower crimes that are committed in groups. But more severe crimes like homicides fail to decline.

Third, due to the economic problems caused by the pandemic crimes can relatively increase. Individuals losing employment, income, lack of new public policies, weaker public support systems, and a larger informal sector can result in to increase in the willingness of criminals to commit crimes.

PREVENTING CRIME AND KEEPING SAFE DURING COVID-19

Covid-19 has affected the whole world in many ways including the type and number of crimes being committed. Along with focusing on the health crisis, it is the right time now to take steps that can help in the reduction of crime rates to ensure the safety of the people. Here are a few steps that can be taken to reduce crime rates.

  1. Talking about the risk factors associated with crime, our focus should be shifted towards socially vulnerable areas where there is often a combination of risk factors such as high levels of unemployment, mental ill-health and drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Alcohol consumption should be reduced as it can lead to domestic violence and child abuse when stress increases.
  • For reducing cybercrime, people should be taught about the precautions they should take to protect themselves from cybercrimes. These include setting a strong password, updating software, managing social media settings, using a full-service Internet security suite etc.
  • Appropriate policy measures can help a lot in overcoming fraud and counterfeiting of the products.
  • Having a proactive approach and spreading awareness can also help a lot. We should treat violence as a public health concern to ensure the protection of the people.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, I would like to say that, although covid pandemic has decreased overall crime rates. However, Covid has not caused a reduction in all kinds of crime nor in all countries across the globe. There are some types of crimes that have increased due to covid pandemic and there are some countries that have seen an increase in crime rates. The focus should be given equally to crime around the world as to pandemics. People should be taught about the precautions they need to take. The world should stand together and fight against all the terrorist activities taking place in this covid pandemic


[1] Bismee Taskin, ‘Increased work, domestic abuse — how Covid lockdown was especially hard on women in India’, The Print (9th February,2021) < https://theprint.in/india/increased-work-domestic-abuse-how-covid-lockdown-was-especially-hard-on-women-in-india/601328/> accessed 3rd September, 2021

[2] Ibid.

[3] ibid.

[4] ‘COVID-19 cyberthreats’, Interpol < https://www.interpol.int/en/Crimes/Cybercrime/COVID-19-cyberthreats> accessed 3rd September,2021.

[5] ‘Timeline: the Rise, Spread, and Fall of the Islamic State’, Wilson centre (28th October,2019) < https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/timeline-the-rise-spread-and-fall-the-islamic-state> accessed 3rd September,2021.

[6] Thomas Wahl, ‘Council Conclusions: COVID-19 Impact on Terrorism and Violent Extremism’, Eucrim (6th July,2021)< https://eucrim.eu/news/council-conclusions-covid-19-impact-on-terrorism-and-violent-extremism/ > accessed 3rd September,2021

[7] Greg Barton, ‘n COVID’s shadow, global terrorism goes quiet. But we have seen this before, and should be wary’, The Conversation (14th August,2020) < https://theconversation.com/in-covids-shadow-global-terrorism-goes-quiet-but-we-have-seen-this-before-and-should-be-wary-144286> accessed 3rd September,2021

[8] ‘Afghanistan Crisis Updates: Al-Qaeda reportedly joins Taliban in attack on Panjshir valley, fight ongoing for two days’, The Economic Times (05 September, 2021) <https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/newsblogs/latest-daily-news-and-updates-september-02/liveblog/85854590.cms > accessed 5th Septembter,2021

[9] ‘Switzerland warns of terror attacks on Covid vaccine sites’, Mint (29th August, 2021) < https://www.livemint.com/news/world/switzerland-warns-of-terror-attacks-on-covid-vaccine-sites-11630226544056.html> accessed 5th September,2021

TYPES OF INTERNET FRAUDS

Internet fraud is a sort of deception that involves the use of the internet. It is not a single fraud; rather, it is a collection of frauds. Internet fraudsters are omnipresent, and they are always coming up with new ways to defraud people and drain their bank accounts. We’ll talk about the many types of internet scams in this blog.

Types of Internet Fraud

1. PHISHING OR AN EMAIL PHISHING SCAM

Fraudsters utilise this tactic to steal your personal information. Fraudsters send you emails impersonating as a legitimate or well-known organisation in this scam. The primary goal of the emails is to steal your financial information. A link or file is generally included in these emails. You will be directed to a phoney website if you click on those links. The false website will request critical information such as your credit card number, UPI code, and other bank account information. Furthermore, clicking on such links will infect your machine with a malware.

2. SCAMS IN ONLINE BUYING

It is one of the most significant online scams in recent years. Fraudsters use this method to build up bogus online shopping portals in order to defraud unsuspecting people of their hard-earned money. They display appealing products at a low price on their website. However, after paying for the transaction, either the fraudulent product is provided or the merchandise is not sent at all. There will be no return or refund procedures on these websites, and there will be no customer care personnel to contact.

3. THEFT OF PERSONAL INFORMATION

Identity theft occurs when criminals steal your personal information over the internet and use it to apply for a personal loan, a two-wheeler loan, or a bank credit card. When you take out a loan in your name, you are responsible for paying it back. Banks will give you a payback notification. If you do not repay the loan, your credit score will suffer and you will be labelled a loan defaulter.

Additionally, your stolen information might be utilized to construct phony social network accounts.

4. SCAMS INVOLVING WORK FROM HOME

The work-at-home scam is one of the most common types of online fraud. Fraudsters take advantage of those looking for work from home possibilities by suggesting that they may earn a lot of money by working from home for a few hours. Job searchers will be required to deposit a set amount of money for a job kit that will be useful for the employment in order to register for the scheme. There will be no record of employers once the money is deposited.

5. LOTTERY SWINDLE

Lottery fraud is one of India’s top three internet scams. Lottery fraud occurs when con artists phone you or send you emails and texts claiming you have won a lottery worth millions of rupees. You will be required to deposit money online in the name of tax in order to obtain the lottery money. When you visit phoney websites, you may be prompted to pay money. When you use those websites to make a payment, all of your card information is taken.

6. MATRIMONIAL DECEPTION

People use online matrimony sites to find their life partners in our fast-paced world. However, the sad reality is that many people lose lakhs of dollars when searching for their soulmates on matrimony websites. Innocent people are duped by fraudsters who create phoney profiles. In addition, various gangs have been formed to carry out this scam. First, the perpetrators persuade victims to trust them. Money is taken from the victims once the trust has been established.

7. TAX EVASION

This type of fraud usually occurs during tax season, when taxpayers are expecting a return. Taxpayers receive phoney refund SMS and emails from fraudsters pretending to be from the IRS. These messages are mostly delivered with the goal of gathering personal information such as I-T Department internet login credentials, bank account information, and so on. You will be requested to give sensitive bank information in order for the refund money to be credited to your bank account.

8. FRAUDLENT USE OF CREDIT CARD REWARD POINTS

Credit card firms offer reward points or loyalty points to encourage people to use their cards. Frauds involving credit card reward points have also been reported. Credit cardholders are contacted by fraudsters pretending to be from their credit card provider and offering to assist them in redeeming their credit card reward points. They generate a sense of urgency among cardholders by emphasising that the deal will expire soon. Cardholders will be required to enter their card details as well as an OTP in order to redeem their reward points. Fraudsters use these details to carry out fraudulent transactions.

9. OLX FRAUD

OLX fraud has become all too widespread, and many people have lost money while buying and selling items on the platform. Fraudsters pose as Army troops and place ads on the platform, which is a common occurrence on OLX. To gain people’s trust, fraudsters exploit army personnel’s stolen identification cards. They take money from the buyer in exchange for the claimed product, but they never deliver it. Fraudsters take advantage of the goodwill associated with the armed forces to defraud people of their hard-earned money.

10. SCAMS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

As the number of people utilizing social media grows, so does the number of social media hoaxes. Cyberbullying is one of the most common forms of social media fraud, and many youngsters have fallen victim to it. Cyberbullying is the use of social networking sites to bully people. There are also other more social media scams, such as a Facebook friend fraud.