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Gang defrauding foreign customers with online tech services busted

The probe was initiated after a complaint from HDFC Bank's credit intelligence and control unit about suspicious transactions
Last Updated : 13 January 2022, 16:14 IST
Last Updated : 13 January 2022, 16:14 IST
Last Updated : 13 January 2022, 16:14 IST
Last Updated : 13 January 2022, 16:14 IST

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Cyberabad cops have busted a fake call centre operating from Mohali, Punjab, and arrested a gang of seven members — three from New Delhi and four from Hyderabad — who have been cheating foreign customers under the pretence of providing online technical services.

The gang has cheated banking institutions and foreign customers to the tune of Rs 25 crore so far, said Stephen Raveendra, Cyberabad police commissioner.

The probe was initiated after a complaint from HDFC Bank's credit intelligence and control unit about suspicious transactions through a swiping machine issued to a merchant 'Healthy Dental Clinic'. Transactions of about Rs 64 lakh were made through 85 different international cards in a short span from 18 to 23 December. The bank approached the police after the dental clinic managers failed to provide information related to these transactions and cardholders.

Their investigation revealed that accused 1 (A-1) Naveen Bhutani (41), from New Delhi, has prior experience providing technical service to foreign customers, and had registered “RNTECH Services Private Limited” in 2017. With the assistance of Monu (A-5), he established three call centres – in New Delhi's Janakpuri, Kaushambi of Ghaziabad and Mohali of Punjab.

Bhutani ran Google ad campaigns for technical services like resolution of problems related to PayPal, Amazon and technical devices like routers, with his contact numbers in Australia, UK and Singapore.

“When customers respond to these ads and contact, tele-callers take remote access to their devices under the pretext of resolving the issue. No such services were provided to the customers, but they collect payments through gateway links provided by Mohit (A-2),” said Raveendra.

Mohit collected the payments through Nagaraju (A-3) and Sravan (A-4) offering them 50 per cent commission. Nagaraju developed websites, integrating them with payment gateways linked to the bank accounts of Srinivas Rao (A-6), Pavan Vennelakanti (A-7) and others.

The accused also deceived customers by making them respond to phishing emails or SMSes. When they had remote access to the device, they would capture the card credentials, and make transactions later as OTPs or PINs are not required for international transactions, the official said.

Bhutani (A-1) and his associates also prepared a mobile number database of Australia, UK and Singapore. Tele-callers identify the customers registered with various e-commerce sites like Amazon. They would log in to various sites (www.amazon.com.au, www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.sg) using the customer data and trigger an OTP for the customer. They would then contact the customer and introduce themselves as tech service experts and collect the OTP.

While on call with customers, the tele-callers would reveal their transaction history (opened using the OTP) and deceive them by saying that their email accounts were compromised. They suggest the customers take their company services in order to protect accounts. They convince the customers to make some payment as charges for their services and during the process they collect the customer card credentials like expiry date and CVV. “The gang conducts the transactions during night hours in the customers' countries so that they cannot block the card or report fraud.”

A police team was deputed to make the arrests and searches at the call centres in NCR, Mohali.

Cash of over Rs 1.11 crore, three SUVs, four laptops, mobile phones, rubber stamps, cheque books and debit cards were recovered from the culprits.

The Cyberabad police are asking the bankers to obtain proper KYC documents and carry out proper verification of account holders. “Payment Gateways also need to follow KYC guidelines while providing domestic and international transactions,” the commissioner said.

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Published 13 January 2022, 16:14 IST

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