Northern Irish scam-buster shuts down Indian scam call centre

  • Northern Irish scam-buster Jim Browning's investigation of a New Delhi scam call centre led to the successful arrest of the centre's owners.

    While the internet has brought us the benefits of e-commerce and social connectivity, it also enabled a new breed of criminals to thrive: scammers. Online scams range from fake products and services to more insidious schemes in which victims are tricked into giving someone else access to their computer.

    One such scam was recently thwarted by professional scam-baiter Jim Browning, who investigates online scams and posts detailed results on YouTube and Patreon. The scam begins with a fake browser popup window saying that your computer has a virus and has a false tech support phone number to call, and victims who call the helpline are asked to install remote access software such as TeamViewer or RescueAssist.

    The attacker will typically log into the victim's PC and attempt to convince them that they needs to buy some kind of support package. Jim tackles these scams by allowing himself to become a target of the scam and then reversing the remote PC connection to gain access to the attacker's PC. He then investigates the attacker's operations and reports them to the proper authorities.

    Jim's latest investigation into a scam call centre in New Delhi turned up something surprising -- the call centre had digital CCTV that Jim could access from the network. He was able to pinpoint the exact location of the scam operation with the help of fellow scam-buster KarlRock and a camera drone, identified the employees, obtained lists of victims and evidence of the crimes, and traced the money. The investigation appeared on BBC's Panorama documentary last week, and the New Delhi police were able to arrest those in charge.

    Stay safe online:

    These types of scam prey disproportionately on the elderly, vulnerable adults, and people with poor computer skills. During his investigation, Jim discovered photos of elderly victims holding up cheques to their cameras signed with shaky handwriting. If you're worried about family members falling victim to this type of scam, there are a few simple rules they can follow to help avoid these scams:

    1. Always call someone you know or someone local for computer problems. Don't trust a number that appears on the screen.
    2. Never install software on your computer if directed to by someone on the phone. 
    3. Don't give out personal information or answer security questions on incoming phone calls. If it's a legitimate call, they'll be happy for you to look up their phone number online and call them back yourself.
    4. If someone on the phone says you'll be sent a One Time Code or One Time PIN to verify your identity, do not give them that code as it will give them access to your account.

    Source: YouTube, YouTube, BBC News, Header Image (c) Jim Browning

    About the author

    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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