Microsoft Exposes Call Center Scam in New Delhi

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Earlier this month, Delhi cyber cell Police arrested 24 people who duped many US citizens by posing as Microsoft tech support staff. The fraudsters could be arrested thanks to the real-time monitoring of cyber crimes using Microsoft’s Digital Crime Unit (DCU) in Redmond which uses Cloud, Big Data, Machine Learning (ML) and Business Intelligence (BI) that helped improve the security of the products and services by protecting vulnerable populations, fighting malware, and reducing digital risks.

About 10 companies were exposed, which were running illegal call centers at various locations in Delhi and targeted Microsoft Windows users. This was possible due to real-time data analytics and key input sharing with relevant law enforcement agencies

Shilpa Bratt, the Director (Shared Services) of Digital Crimes Unit, told IANS- “It was real-time monitoring which helped us crack the Delhi gang that was behind the large-scale tech support fraud. The whole operation has been encouraging in our fight against cyber crimes. We worked closely with our DCU staff in India and Singapore to nail the culprits. I believe there are many more such cyber criminals out there and we will up the ante against their sinister plans.”

The cybercriminals impersonated themselves as Microsoft tech support staff after which they fraudulently managed to pop up messages on users’ screens suggesting that their systems had been affected by malware.

When users contacted the fraudsters with the hope of getting their systems fixed, the fraudsters charged a sum between $100 and $500.

The Delhi police said they seized incriminating evidence which was in the form of cheques from customers in the name of Microsoft Tech support, call recordings, virtual dialers, Microsoft Tech support training material, call log transcripts detailing the conversation with victims of fraud, payment gateway records, and servers.

According to a Microsoft survey which was released in October, about 68 percent of Windows users in India fell prey to tech support scams in the past year and about 14 percent of them even lost their money. The problem is prevalent worldwide and not limited to India alone. According to the “Tech Support Scam Survey 2018” released by DCU, about three out of five people worldwide have experienced tech support scams in the past year and one in five have lost their money to fraudsters as well.

The scammers claimed that they found non-existent computer viruses and infections, and then conned people out of their hard-earned money in return for providing fake tech support. In addition to stealing personal and financial information, frauds even ended up installing new malicious software.

Bratt said– “At DCU, we are constantly monitoring such scammers. The fight against them will only intensify in days to come.”

In the last two days, Bratt reported that over 2 billion connected devices were affected with active threats globally and Vietnam took the first spot followed by India.  This data was generated by Microsoft’s real-time “Threat Monitor”.

The DCU, which consists of 22 employees at its Redmond headquarters and 60 overall people at 30 offices globally including India has been working meticulously to intercept, analyze and mitigate threats, and has ended up creating a road-map for various industry stakeholders globally in order to plan relevant actions. A team of about 3,500 professionals at Microsoft has been looking at security, built into the company’s products and services, using frameworks such as the security development lifecycle and operational security assurance.

Microsoft’s Cybersecurity Engagement Centre in New Delhi has already started empowering organizations with information and techniques in order to secure critical information infrastructure and help reduce malware and digital risk. Microsoft invests more than a billion dollars a year in security research, innovation & development, reached out to 126 organizations in India last year to enhance security.

Bratt added– “Our big worry is the attacks from nation-state actors as law enforcement is challenged by borders. The cross-border nature of cybercrime has created safe havens for bad actors. We need a stronger global security law to deal with such situations which are increasing by the day.”

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