On March 25 this year, following a secret tip-off, a team from the Delhi Police raided an office at Kirti Nagar in west Delhi, where an organised gang of cyber criminals posed as “Amazon tech supporters” to cheat U.S.-based victims.
Fifteen persons were arrested following the raid, including 13 tele-callers and two senior executives supervising the activities. Meanwhile, one Bhanu Prakash Singh, whom the investigating agency alleges is the kingpin of the fake call centre racket, is yet to be arrested.
Fearing imminent arrest, Mr. Singh moved the Delhi High Court, seeking anticipatory bail on the grounds that the only evidence against him was disclosure statements by the co-accused persons.
In response to Mr. Singh’s plea, the Delhi Police submitted a status report revealing in great detail the modus operandi of the gang.
The racket begins with a VICI Dial software generated pre-recorded threatening robo-call claiming to be from Amazon, telling the recipient U.S. resident that suspicious transactions had taken place in their Amazon account.
The unsuspecting victims were then deceitfully persuaded to connect with the tele-caller through Remote Access Software for resolving the issue. The victim’s computer or mobile remote access were connected to software like Quick Support, AnyDesk, etc., in a fictitious ploy of connecting the victim to a secure Amazon server.
Then, the victim was made to purchase e-gift cards (via X-Box, Gpay etc.) through their Amazon account linked credit/debit cards claiming that to be a dummy transaction and part of verification process.
The gang members would then persuade the victim to log in into their Internet banking for securing the refund amount from Amazon, resulting in the gang members taking information pertaining to the victim’s banking credentials, making them transfer the amount to temporary Zelle accounts and crypto-currency wallets of the gang members.
The gang members would then send e-mails to the victim that they had been successfully granted the refund amount, finally sending the victim to the store/ supermarket for purchasing the gift pack from brands like Target, Nike, Walmart, Google Play, Best Buy, etc.
Once the victim could not be duped further, the calls were hung up.
Since the gang members connected with the victim through spoofed VOIP (voice over internet protocol) numbers, the victim could neither call back nor were the numbers traced.
The Delhi Police’s counsel, who objected to Mr. Singh’s anticipatory bail plea, said that the magnitude of the cheated amount was huge, as presently the number of victims is unknown.
“One of the U.S. resident victims has joined the investigation and stated that he has been cheated by the present centre for an amount of $6,683.34 (₹4.88 lakh approx),” the counsel said.
The counsel further argued that the co-accused were taking instructions from Mr. Singh and were duly reporting to him. The money transaction was carried out by Mr. Singh through a crypto currency and Zelle account, and to overcome trail of the money, the fake call centre’s employees were paid their salary in cash.
The Delhi Police said the entire illegal operation had been carried out at the instance of Mr. Singh and one more co-accused. It wanted custodial interrogation of Mr. Singh to unearth the source from which he had procured the data of U.S. resident victims, Zelle accounts or U.S. bank accounts and crypto-currency wallets (used to receive the cheated amount).
Taking note of the Delhi Police’s stand that Mr. Singh was involved in a serious offence which had ramifications internationally, as U.S. citizens had been cheated, Justice Mukta Gupta rejected the anticipatory bail plea.
The High Court also noted that the complete trail of the cheated money was required to be identified and unearthed.
This article was originally published on The Hindu