In what is an early Christmas present for many around the world the New York Times reported that police in New Delhi, India have raided several call centers that were involved in fake tech support calls. Chances are you have seen the messages or were called by one of these people as their calls were part of a spat of fake or robocalls that have drove people nuts. It is certainly satisfying to know that the parties responsible may now have to pay for their crimes and we all know that the prisons in India are nowhere near as nice as the ones here in the US.

The Scam

These call centers typically scammed people in two different ways. A popup could be displayed on your computer disguised as something that looked like it was from a legitimate company like Microsoft or Symantec telling you that you have a virus and to call a number for help to remove it. Numerous domains were purchased to make it look more legitimate and Microsoft logos were added as well. It looked believable to say the least. Or they could just simply call you directly claiming to be from Windows to tell you that a virus was detected and to offer their “assistance” to remove the issue. If the mark continued they would offer a “support package” that could range from about $100 to $1000 to fix the issue.

It is believed that as many as 6% of all people contacted fell for the scam, resulting in billions of dollars lost globally. This was also not just targeting the US and Canada as it also targeted Europe as well as users in India and China as well. Users in India and China were the most likely to be scammed but the majority of those targeted were Americans and Canadians. Many of the scammers were also in contact with each other to share information about marks.

The Raid

Needless to say these calls were an annoyance for those receiving them at best and of course no one likes to be scammed. Microsoft became inundated with calls about this receiving around 11,000 calls per month. Their support forums were also filled with posts regarding this. Something had to be done and they teamed with police to trace the calls, which led them to New Delhi, India.

India and New Delhi in particular is the call center capital of the world. Many large companies outsource their over-the-phone support either there or Mumbai and it is believed that about 1.2 million people nationally are employed in the industry. Hiding an illegal call center would not be hard. The scam worked even better since Microsoft and many other large companies operate outsourced call centers in India so hearing an Indian voice on the other end of the phone would not seem out of place for anyone calling.

Police raided 10 call centers in October arresting 24 people and at the end of November another raid hit 16 call centers leading to 36 arrests. One has to wonder if more will follow.

How people knew this was a scam

Many people knew that this was a scam. The first reason was that Microsoft or any other company had no way of knowing if a computer had a virus or not and thus had no reason to contact anyone regarding that via either a popup message or a call. Microsoft also does not deal with virus removal, that would be the purview of either the OEM or an antivirus company. The second was that Microsoft does not contact anyone directly, instead you have to call them which is what made the popup a bit more believable.

Last, the scammers identified themselves typically as calling from either “The Company” or “Windows”, neither of which are of course legitimate companies which should have set off alarm bells. For myself there was another reason, they would call asking to speak to my grandfather (and they called at least once a month) and he had never even touched a computer. Busted! I will admit that I told them to do some things that I would not ever utter to a normal person. Unfortunately not everyone contacted was so lucky. This was organized crime at a global level.

While those conned will probably have no recourse to recover their money it is certainly satisfying to know that these people will be held to account and will hopefully see the inside of a prison in India. Hopefully it will dissuade others from following the same path. Considering that there was a major bust in July breaking up a series of call centers involved in an IRS scam one has to wonder if this could force companies to move call centers out of India to avoid the perception of a scam. Not that there aren’t unscrupulous people elsewhere in the world…

One Response to Fake Call Centers Being Busted in India

  1. Indian cops and govt are paid off by scammers. They take photo ops and scammers are back to scamming within hours.

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