The second episode of the Discovery+ docu-series, titled The New Jamtara: India’s Phishing Capital, documents the rise in cyber crimes in India
This episode of Money Mafia focuses on the exponential rise of cyber crimes in India. Money Mafia discusses Mewat, a district in Haryana, which has adopted the moniker as the ‘new Jamtara’. The episode follows investigative journalist Shankar Anand as his team delves deep into cybercrimes to gain an insight into how the cybercriminals operate, live, and why they have resorted to ‘phishing’.
As one would expect, the aesthetics of visuals and sound remain consistent from the first episode. It remains a puzzle as to why the filmmakers have opted to add plastic chairs stacked one on top of the other in the background. If it was a conscious decision to improve the framing of the shot, then it may have proven to be counterproductive.
However, there is a distinctive elevation in quality from the first episode, Fake Stamp Paper: The King of Cons. There are few decent interviews of investigative officers who outline the challenges they are faced with and how even the most educated become victims of it. Anyesh Roy, DCP Cyber Crime of Delhi Police, provides an insight into the term ‘phishing’ and how crimes related to phishing have exploded in India over the last few years.
Cybersecurity expert and CEO of Cyberops, Mukesh Choudhary, provided an in-depth analysis of how victims are targeted and explained various ground rules about what the population should be aware of in order to avoid being defrauded by seamsters. While they contain hints of a social service advertisement, it is something that people need to be aware of and discuss.
The part where the documentary stands out is when the audiences are given front row seats to journalist Shankar Anand’s investigative operation. There is genuine drama and intensity as Anand attempts to interview some of the people involved in cybercrimes. Some of the interviews offer a glimpse into their lives and what motivates them to do them.
It is hard not to feel sympathetic towards their plight, even though they are criminals who steal for a living. What the documentary truly captures is how society has failed these individuals; they are denied basic education, and basic means to earn a living. It is the poverty and the severe economic inequality between the rich and the poor that truly motivate them.
One of the interviewees, a reformed ‘cyber scammer’ makes an interesting observation that corruption, bribery, embezzlement, and scams run across almost every government and bureaucratic institution in the country. In other words, unless there is a cultural shift when it comes to civic duties and an overhaul in the perception of what it means to be a responsible citizen, the people neglected by the system will end up having to resort to illegal means, and in some cases, violence, to keep up with the ever-changing socio-economic framework of India.
Overall, the episode is a step in the right direction for the series.