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Biggest joint operation by CBI-US against call centres that duped foreigners in the garb of tech support

New Delhi: A massive crackdown has been launched against fake call centers in India scamming foreigners. Indian executives are scaring them by sending pop-up alert of malware in their computer. In return, they charge hundreds of dollar to delete the virus, which never existed.

Cleaning-up of this web of deceit from dubious call centers in posh offices of India is one of the biggest joint operations by India’s premier investigating agency CBI along with federal agencies in the US and other nations.

Indian callers are using a range of modus-operandi to cheat foreigners which include fake malware, financial services, loans, car or property involved in crime.

The on-going operation

These call centers are operating for many years and thousands of people have been duped by Indian agents across the globe. Federal agencies of several nations and especially the US after investigating the cases have traced such cases back to India. Following their investigations, CBI has launched pan-India operations with over a dozen call centers on their radar.

This week, CBI with the US Justice Department busted in technical support fraud scheme from Jaipur, Delhi, Noida, Gurugram, Faridabad & Mainpuri. The alleged masterminded is an American national – Michael Brian Cotter (59). The resident of Glendale, California works with his associates in call centres in several Indian cities over the past decade.

The help of state police is also being taken to finish the menace of fake call centre from its roots. On Friday Haryana’s CM’s flying squad raided a call centre that allegedly cheated US citizens on the pretext of offering technical support. It was located in Udyog Vihar Phase-1. In Gurgaon it was the eighth such sham organisation to have come to the fore this year so far.

Modus-operandi of scam:

The multi-crore business of fake call centers are thriving on ‘scare’. Based on the data leaked by their accomplices in the US, Indian agents call and scare them.

1: Most popular among the others is scareware. In simple words the conmen working in Indian call centers based on the leaked database of American or other foreign customers starts  contacting the unsuspecting consumers through internet pop-up messages that falsely appeared to be security alerts from Microsoft Corporation, Apple or other reputed IT firm.

The pop-up messages fraudulently claimed that the consumer’s computer was infected by a virus. It would then run a scan on the consumer’s computer, falsely confirming the presence of a virus and malware. A toll-free number would be given, where the victim will contact, and the call would land up in their call centres. These companies would then take the remote access of the victim’s computer and would convince the victim of presence of non-existing problems and then would make them pay hundreds of Dollars for unnecessary services and softwares.

 2: Adopting another way to scare foreigners, the caller from India first start sending bulk messages to thousands of American citizens. In the message, they will claim that victims’ vehicle was involved in a crime and they would be facing legal action. After given initial information the caller ask them to dial back on an international number. Whenever the victim in America dials back, the call gets connected to the call centre in India. American residents were told by Indian callers that drugs were found in their vehicle or cook up a story of some bloodstains in their vehicle. The callers in India have access to their social security numbers and address as well to sound genuine. If the target was scared enough, the accused would offer a settlement.

3: Targeting US-based citizens through fake payday loan schemes. Payday loan system refers to lending small amounts of money, usually 700-900 US$ for a small number of days with high-interest rates. Indian callers offer fake payday loan schemes and to avail the scheme, they asked the victims to purchase online gaming coupons as per their policy and asked them to reveal the coupon code. The accused then used to encash the coupon code online.

 

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