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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

Call script from dark web used to dupe US citizens

The arrested accused are Yogesh Sharma,25, Abhishek Salian, 31, Naim Khan, 31, Asif Lanjekar, 32, and Pradipkumar Ram, 29.

mumbai Updated: Jul 06, 2019 01:09 IST
Jayprakash S Naidu
Jayprakash S Naidu
Mumbai
The fake call centre was being run from the second floor of this building in Motilal Nagar chawl, Goregaon
The fake call centre was being run from the second floor of this building in Motilal Nagar chawl, Goregaon(HT Photo)
         

The script used by five arrested accused to cheat dozens of Americans of at least Rs 1.5 crore is available on the dark net — portions of the internet that can be accessed only by a few and usually used for smuggling and drug-peddling, the police said. The men were arrested on Thursday for running a fake call centre in Goregaon for the past 45 days. The police are still looking for two more people involved in the scam, and have sent teams to Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

The arrested accused are Yogesh Sharma,25, Abhishek Salian, 31, Naim Khan, 31, Asif Lanjekar, 32, and Pradipkumar Ram, 29. So far, the police have found no link to a similar fake call centre racket in Thane that was busted in 2016, but have not ruled it out.

On Friday, HT visited the Motilal Nagar chawl where the call centre was set up and found that none of the neighbours knew about the scam. The owner of a ration shop below the call centre said he realised something was amiss only after the police team raided the place.

“The five men took the room on rent saying they will run an office that deals in Ayurvedic products,” said a police officer close to the investigation.

Additional commissioner, north region, Dilip Sawant said,“We are investigating the case.”

The police are looking for one person in Hyderabad, accused of sending the names, phone numbers and Social Security Numbers (SSN) of the US citizens who were cheated.

The men at the Goregaon call centre would use this information to call people in the US, and using the script from the dark net, pose as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials and scare their victims by saying they had defaulted on their taxes.

“The fraudsters told their victims to buy gift cards if they wanted to avoid action against them. They asked them to scratch the gift card and send the codes on it to them. These codes were passed on to the second person wanted in the case, in Hyderabad,” the police officer said. This person would get the codes from one of the arrested men, convert them to money through a private company.

A police officer said the gift cards worked like a credit card system.

The police said three of the accused had previously worked in international call centres and knew how to speak with an American accent.

“We seized 15 hard disks; a server; a router; laptops; five mobiles and other equipment. Five persons have been arrested and at least two more are wanted,” said deputy commissioner of police, zone XI, Sangramsinh Nishandar

First Published: Jul 06, 2019 01:09 IST

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