The wrong call

Lured by lucrative salary packages, graduates are taking up jobs atfake call centres knowing full well what they are signing up for

Unable to turn down the “lucrative offer”, Kunal went for the interview and was selected. From day one, however, he was aware that he would be cheating people, but was assured that he would never be caught.

The Delhi Police Cybercrime Unit has recently arrested 96 people and busted fake call centres involved in multi-crore frauds.

The callers were impersonating law enforcement agency officials and had allegedly cheated over 8,000 foreign nationals, mainly from the United States. Most of the accused were graduates and had come to Delhi looking for a job.

DCP (Cyber Cell) Anyesh Roy said that a few of the accused, including women, even had MCA, BCA or BTech degrees.

By reference only

All of them were aware of the fraud they were involved in. “They were lured with attractive salary packages at the time of joining. They were offered around ₹25,000 a month and were hired only based on reference from existing employees of the call centre, who were paid around ₹40,000 every month,” said Mr. Roy.

Over the last three years, the fake callers managed to dupe two-three people every day. The highest amount duped from a single victim was around $45,000, he added.

“The salary of the shift manager at the call centre was ₹75,000 per month. For every USD that a victim was duped of, the caller would get ₹2 and the team leader/closer got ₹4 as incentive. Moreover, all employees were paid holiday and annual bonuses,” said Mr. Roy.

A police officer said that during the lockdown, the callers worked from home and were paid holiday bonuses for Christmas and New Year.

“The details of the social security number were easily available but it could only be accessed through a U.S. IP address. They used a virtual private network to access U.S. websites and data, including mobile numbers and email addresses,” said the officer.

Modus operandi

The accused persons used to contact foreign nationals based in the U.S. and other countries.

They would impersonate officials of various law enforcement agencies and other government agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service, etc., and tell the victims that their bank accounts and other assets were frozen as their details had been found at a crime scene. The victims were then told that there are bank accounts running in their names and that illegal transactions had been made to drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia.

The callers then threatened the victims with “immediate arrest”.

“Initial investigation has revealed that the owner of this call centre was managing the operations from Dubai, UAE. Further investigation is under way,” said Mr. Roy.

He added that many such illegal call centres are operating from other cities in the country and that they have been keeping a tab on the activity of these centres.

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