The Madhapur police, a division of the Cyberabad commissionerate, have successfully dismantled three fraudulent call centers operating under the guise of the US Customs & Border Protection Cell department, as well as a well-known e-commerce giant. These call centers were involved in siphoning off money from unsuspecting US citizens.
By utilizing voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology, the masterminds and employees behind these illicit call centers managed to deceive numerous US citizens. These entities, which were registered in Gujarat, had been conducting their operations within the city for nearly a span of two years. It is estimated that they may have targeted more than 20 US citizens on a daily basis, extracting an average of USD 2,000 from each victim. The companies involved have been identified as ARJ Solutions, AG Solutions, and Vertez Solutions.
Investigations have revealed that the individuals orchestrating these scams acquired personal and sensitive information of US citizens from callcentersindia.com, in addition to procuring VOIP services for communicating with their targets. In one modus operandi, telecallers associated with these entities would impersonate officials from the US Customs & Border Protection Cell. They would falsely inform the victims that a parcel, supposedly from Mexico and addressed to them, contained illegal drugs. The victims would then be threatened with charges related to drug trafficking and money laundering, accompanied by claims of incriminating evidence against them.
To avoid severe consequences, the victims were coerced into paying a penalty. The scammers would instruct the victims to arrange the penalty amount in the form of gift coupons. In a separate scheme, the suspects would contact victims, informing them of a delivery under their name. When the victim denied having placed an order, they would demand payment for order cancellation, insisting on receiving the payment in the form of gift coupons.
These gift coupons were sold at discounted rates on an alternate website known as ‘Paxful.’ The scammers would then redeem the coupons in the form of cryptocurrency, which was subsequently converted to Indian currency through the website localbitcoin.com. At this stage, the ill-gotten gains could be collected in the form of bank transfers or even cash, often facilitated through the hawala system, according to the Cyberabad Police Commissioner.
In a commendable operation, a total of 115 individuals, including both the organizers and telecallers associated with these fraudulent operations, have been apprehended by the police. While the telecallers were typically required to have a minimum educational qualification of graduation, those with exceptional language skills were also considered for employment. The apprehension of these employees is justified on the grounds that they were complicit in the perpetration of the fraud.
It is noteworthy that the police acted on a tip-off to conduct raids on these fraudulent call center premises. Despite the absence of formal complaints from the victims at this juncture, the law enforcement agencies have taken decisive action against these fraudulent activities.