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Police to e-mail over 1 lakh foreigners who fell prey to ‘tech support’ scams

Police commissioner Muhammad Akil said, during raids, they recovered data from the fake call centres and from the suspects. This data has details of nearly one lakh users, including their email IDs, credit and debit card numbers, and their CVV numbers.

gurgaon Updated: May 30, 2019 08:06 IST
Leena Dhankhar
Leena Dhankhar
Gurugram
police,foreigners,tech support
Police commissioner Muhammad Akil said the cyber crime unit has been asked to start sending emails to all victims.(HT Photo)

The police, on Wednesday, said they will contact all foreign nationals who were allegedly duped by multiple fake call centres spread across Gurugram and Noida and were busted over the past six months. The police added that they will also contact embassies of all countries whose citizens were duped, apprise them of such scams and issues faced by people seeking online technical support.

The police said they have collected data from 18 fake call centres over the past year, including the one busted on Tuesday in Udyog Vihar Phase 3, and have questioned nearly 50 suspects to recover from their possession the data of their victims, mostly based in the United States of America (USA) and other English-speaking countries.

Police commissioner Muhammad Akil said, during raids, they recovered data from the fake call centres and from the suspects. This data has details of nearly one lakh users, including their email IDs, credit and debit card numbers, and their CVV numbers.

“We are verifying all the details and have assigned the task to the cyber crime unit to start sending emails to the victims, starting Monday,” Akil said.

The police had bust a string of fake call centres based on the information shared by software giant Microsoft Corporation (India) Private Limited, who was the complainant in 17 FIRs filed in Gurugram and Noida in December last year. The complainant had conducting a detailed internal inquiry against the suspects after receiving numerous complaints from users based in 12 countries, including the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. Microsoft had then shared this information with the Gurugram police.

A preliminary police probe had revealed that these call centres had duped over 1 lakh people—mostly based abroad—over a span of one year by hacking into their computers and conning them into paying anything between $100-2,000 for installing ‘bogus’ applications on the pretext of providing technical assistance.

The police said the victims used to receive an email with fake pop-up error message stating that a malware had infected their computer systems and if not rectified immediately, their personal and financial data would be compromised. The pop-up used to display on full-screen mode and would lock the user’s screen/browser.

The police said that besides charging the victims exorbitant fee for fixing the “problems”, they would also hack into their banking systems and transfer money into their own accounts.

“More than 150 pen drives and over 200 hard disks were scanned to get the credentials of the victims and we will also contact their banks to get details of the payments received by the suspects through online transactions,” assistant commissioner of police (DLF) Karan Goyal said.

On Wednesday, the police arrested another partner of the fake call centre that was busted on Tuesday. He was identified as Vinit Sharma, a resident of Dwarka in Delhi and a native of Uttar Pradesh.

After interrogation of the five suspects arrested on Tuesday, it was revealed that all of them have worked as calling agents in different call centres and have experience of four to five years in the industry. The kingpin of the gang had contacted a company in the USA and had taken franchise to operate a call centre from Gurugram and they were paying 25% of their profit to the US company, police said.

Each partner earned nearly Rs 5 lakh per month from of this setup and used to pay a minimum salary of ₹45,000 to its 12 customer care executives, Goyal said.

These suspects had also taken a loan from different banks on forged documents, said police.

“We are taking details of the company’s bank account to get the exact transaction amounts sent to the US company. We are also verifying if the foreign company was also a part of the scam. We will write to the Embassies concerned about to this scam and will apprise them of the issue faced by the people seeking online technical support,” Akil said.

First Published: May 30, 2019 01:17 IST