CBI searches 6 Indian firms in global Internet tech support fraud case, recovers Rs 190 crore
The CBI on Friday said it has recovered assets worth over Rs 190 crore during searches against six companies in India, which are booked in connection with a global Internet tech support scam case in which they targeted customers of Microsoft world over.
Claiming that the agency has been collaborating with its counterparts in other countries for the purpose of investigation in the case, officials in the CBI said, its probe has received praise from the United States’ Department of Justice.
CBI spokesperson RK Gaur said, “During the agency’s searches on September 17, the sleuths also seized gold worth Rs 55 lakh, cash totalling Rs 25 lakh and a plethora of digital evidence indicating alleged nefarious activities of the six accused companies, based in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.”
He said the agency is collaborating “with US agencies and authorities of other friendly countries” against the fraudsters, who allegedly took remote control of computers of users by sending them a pop-up message of malware presence on their systems.
Giving details of the modus operandi of the fraudsters the CBI officer said, “Once the user dialled the number given on the pop-up, he was directed at call centre executives who demanded huge sums of money to clean the non-existent malware and also installed unnecessary damaging softwares of the users’ computers.”
Gaur said similar coordination is being done by the CBI with federal agencies of the other countries. The CBI has been making concerted efforts to identify and rapidly dismantle any such network of transnational cyber frauds operated out of India, he added.
The central agency had conducted searches at the premises of accused companies – New Delhi-based Softwill Infotech Private Limited and Saburi TLC Worldwide Services Pvt. Ltd, Jaipur-based Innovana Think labs Limited and Systweak Software Private Limited, Noida-based Benovellient Technologies Private Limited, Noida and Gurugram-based Saburi Global Services Pvt Ltd., the CBI said in a statement.
The searches were spread across various locations including Jaipur, Delhi, Noida, Gururgam, Faridabad and Mainpuri (Uttar Pradesh) at the premises of private companies and residential premises of accused persons in an on-going investigation in the case, Gaur said.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement yesterday that in an “unprecedented collaborative” effort, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in India took actions in parallel with today’s filing against corporate and individual participants in the scheme located in Delhi, Noida, Gurugram and Jaipur.
“The Department of Justice sincerely appreciates the CBI’s efforts to disrupt and prosecute technical-support fraud, government imposter fraud, and all other schemes directed at the American public,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Civil Division in a statement in the US.
The US authorities have filed a complaint in a Florida court against the scam on which the court had issued a restraining order yesterday to dismantle internet based infrastructure of the alleged fraudsters. According to the complaint Michael Brian Cotter, 59, of Glendale, California, knowingly provided US support for India-based accomplices in furtherance of the scheme, the DOJ said in the statement.
The complaint has alleged that Cotter was working with Indian conspirators since 2011 to set up domains, setting up shell companies and putting in place payment infrastructure through banks and payment operators, it said, adding: “Individual victims are alleged to have reported paying hundreds to thousands of dollars to the scheme for unwanted and unnecessary technical-support services.”