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Explained: How a B.Tech, his aides used a spy app to steal money from thousands across the country

What are these messages that were sent and how were spywares installed on mobile phones through them? How is this different from apps like TeamViewer that provided distant access to fraudsters?

Written by Mohamed Thaver , Edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai |
Updated: August 12, 2021 12:39:46 pm
Through the messages, the accused installed spyware on mobile phones and transferred money from the bank accounts of customers to their own accounts.

The Mumbai police have arrested four persons who ran a nationwide fraud by sending SMSes encrypted with a spyware to access confidential data from mobile phones and steal money.

A look at how the accused, which includes a B.Tech graduate, carried out the fraud

What is the case registered by cyber police in Mumbai in which arrests were made recently?

An employee of a major mobile service provider recently approached the cyber police alleging that several of their customers had been receiving bulk messages regarding deactivation of service in case certain verifications are not done.

Through the messages, the accused installed spyware on mobile phones and transferred money from the bank accounts of customers to their own accounts.

What are these messages that were sent and how were spywares installed on mobile phones through them?

An officer said the messages sent generally read, “Dear XX User. Your tele-verification is pending please call our executive on Mob no XXXXXXX. Service will be stopped within 24 hours. Thanks XXX.”

Once the user clicked on the message, a spyware app ‘KYC QS’ was downloaded on their phones. It was through this app that the accused managed to access details, like banking applications and personal data, on their mobile phones.

How is this different from apps like TeamViewer that provided distant access to fraudsters?

According to the police, fraudsters would earlier attack links to apps like team viewer and send it to customers. This app, however, was visible on the mobile phone and an alert user could spot it and delete. A spyware is not visible on the phone, thereby making it more lethal. In addition to this, while team viewer would only give the fraudsters access to the apps currently being used by a person, the spyware used currently gives them access to both banking apps and personal data of the users.

Apart from the banking apps to transfer money, did the fraudsters also use the personal data of customers?

‘Police are currently questioning the accused to find out if they were also using the personal data of customers accessed through the app. An official said they should get some clarity on that in the next few days once the four accused have been questioned.

The accused in this case, including a B Tech engineer, were arrested from Jharkhand and West Bengal from areas with Naxal presence.

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Did the accused deliberately operate from such areas?

An official said they have seen a trend where several cyber criminals operate from naxal areas. Police claimed that cybercriminals work in cahoots with Naxals where the latter provide them protection from police in exchange of monetary benefits

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