NOIDA: Parents of 32 youngsters who were caught by Noida Police on Thursday used to think that they were working for an international call centre but executives working at the office in Noida’s Bisrakh area were running a fake call centre.
This office was part of one of the many hubs involved in duping American citizens by sending fake pop-ups on their computer screen and scaring them of viruses in their system and extorting money to remove it. The amount of money defrauded from American citizens by the call centre is estimated to be more than Rs 10 crore.
They sent pop-up messages into computer systems around the world, with the usual messages and warnings — “Your computer was locked,” “System detected potentially malicious viruses,” “Personal and financial information is not safe,” “Your personal identity is being used by hackers,” and so on.
They would offer technical support, collect information about their systems in order to remove pop-ups they had sent themselves, and charge a fee in dollars. According to police, these con artists used to charge anywhere from $100 to $3,000 for “fixing viruses” in the affected systems.
The warnings would typically include a phone number from IT/anti-virus companies like Microsoft’s “technical help team,” to which targeted users would be directed if they needed technical assistance.
Many users, fearful of the alleged virus threat, would dial the number and fall into the trap.
As the investigation has so far revealed, the calls would land at the phoney call centres and be answered by youths posing as authorised representatives of a leading software company, their business partners, certified technicians, service providers, and so on.
“According to information obtained from the accused during questioning, the call centre made up to USD 4,000 per night and had been in operation for about a year. The amount involved in the fraud is well into the crores of rupees Employees who worked on calls were paid Rs 20,000 per month, while the manager was paid Rs 1.25 lakh to Rs 1.50 lakh per month,” said a senior official.
He said that 15 to 20 more people, including the mastermind behind the con job, have been identified and that efforts are being made to locate and apprehend them.
According to the police, they seized 50 computers and related devices from the call centre, where people worked overnight to match the normal work hours in the US.
Police are yet to ascertain the number of people duped by the gang and the amount of money made by the gang.