GURUGRAM: A call centre that had in just three weeks of existence allegedly cheated more than 30,000 Americans by posting malware links on their PCs and then offering technical support to fix it was found operating from an upscale business centre on Sohna Road on Saturday by the CID’s chief minister’s flying squad.
Ironically, the two who ran the criminal operation are familiar faces for the law. They had been arrested last year running a similar bogus call centre from Udyog Vihar but were out on bail and had got right back to the swindling business.
Vikram Verma, a resident of Delhi, and his partner Rishab, a resident of Gurgaon, have been charged under section 420 (cheating) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and sections of the of IT Act in the FIR filed at Sadar police station.
The Sohna Road call centre underscores the law and order challenge cyber police still face in the national capital region, which has been on the radar of international law enforcement agencies, including America’s FBI, since a large number of crook calls were traced to cities around Delhi, particularly Gurgaon and Noida. Over the past couple of years, several large call centres, primarily targeting American citizens, have been busted.
Sixteen such call centres have been found to operating just in the last 36 months. This January, a call centre operating from Udyog Vihar was busted and around 30 people were detained. It had collected millions by cheating residents of the US and Mexico by pretending to be customer associates of Amazon.
In November 2018, youths sitting in Gurgaon conned hundreds of people by sending pop-ups to people in the US, UK, Canada, Australia to make it appear that their computers were attacked by virus. They then posed as Microsoft representatives and offered technical support in exchange of payments. The menace had become so huge that Microsoft had asked FBI to help in the investigation. In May this year, around seven people were arrested from Noida for cheating US residents using the same modus operandi.
The 38-seater call centre, which was operating without a licence since July 13 from JMD Megapolis on Sohna Road, used to send pop-ups warning of a system lockdown and asking users to call on certain toll-free numbers to get their computers protected against a one-time payment. The fraudsters also convinced many users to buy anti-virus of reputable companies and charged them via iTunes cards as well as gift cards. They would charge $250 or more from each user. The gift cards were routed to bank accounts in India via Europe and China.
DSP (CID) Inderjeet Yadav said, “A raid was conducted on Saturday and around 26 youths, including seven women, were found working at the call centre named Green Rock Enterprise and owned by Verma,” he said, adding that around 25 employees were also working from home.
Yadav said that the accused had a partner in the US who used to provide them with citizens’ data. All the employees working at the call centre were paid between Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000 per month. They have not been arrested yet but are being questioned.