It was an investigation by a UK-based online “vigilante” that caught the attention of first the BBC and then the Gurgaon Police, which earlier this week arrested two men involved in running a fake call centre from Udyog Vihar. The call centre would dupe foreign nationals of lakhs under the pretext of providing them with “technical assistance”.
The 5 minute 58 second documentary, Spying on Scammers, was uploaded by BBC on YouTube on March 2, and was the result of the work of a “British vigilante” who calls himself Jim Browning and had hacked into CCTV cameras installed at the fake call centre. It came to the attention of Gurgaon Police the following day, and an FIR was registered at the Cyber Crime police station.
Police said one of the accused, a 24-year-old B.Com graduate, has since been discovered to be the accountant of the call centre, and hails from Jind. The other accused, Amit Chauhan (30), is the main offender and founder of the centre, police said. He was residing in an upscale gated condominium, Magnolias, on Golf Course Road. Police said he has since been discovered to be a B.Tech dropout. They were arrested on Tuesday and remanded in judicial custody, said Gurgaon Police PRO Subhash Boken.
Police said Chauhan founded the call centre in January 2019 and operated it until September. He would use pop-ups to dupe people into believing their computers had a “virus”. The pop-up would direct them not to shut down or restart their computer, but to instead call a number that it claimed belonged to the ‘Microsoft Technical Department’.
“When the victims would call on the number, employees from the ‘call centre’ would demand a one-time charge amounting to more than Rs 1 lakh, to be paid through the payment gateway PayPal, to resolve the problem,” said the PRO.
In the documentary uploaded by BBC, which has extracts from footage procured by hacking into CCTV cameras, employees can be heard speaking to people on the other end with heavy American accents, claiming to be working in California. In one call, an employee can be heard asking for a payment of 1,295 US dollars to rectify the error and, with the victim starting to cry on the phone, comforting him that “everything will be okay”, even as some of his colleagues snigger in the background.
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