Indian police claim breaking up international computer virus scam

Published November 29, 2018
The arrested posed as representatives of Microsoft and other companies and used their logos. —Dawn Archives
The arrested posed as representatives of Microsoft and other companies and used their logos. —Dawn Archives

Indian police on Thursday said they have arrested nearly two dozen people on suspicion of defrauding people around the world by sending fake pop-up messages warning them that their computers were infected with a virus and offering to fix the problem at a price.

Police officer Ajay Pal Sharma said those arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday posed as representatives of Microsoft and other companies and used their logos.

The arrests were made after input from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Interpol, Sharma said. Microsoft was the complainant in the case.

He said those arrested have been running the scam out of call centres in the Indian capital and the neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for months.

The pop-up messages prompted victims in the United States, Britain, Australia and other countries to call a phone number shown on their computer screens, he said. They would then be scammed out of money in exchange for supposedly fixing the problem.

Those arrested were mostly people in their 20s and early 30s who quit their jobs in call centres. Police recovered hard drives, servers, laptops, cellphones, and computers from them, Sharma said.

In 2016, Mumbai police arrested 70 people for allegedly cheating thousands of Americans. They would call their victims from call centers in Mumbai and tell them that they owed unpaid taxes and should buy prepaid cash cards to settle the debts or face jail.

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