Hyderabad: Seven members of a gang running an international credit card scam were arrested on Thursday by the Cyberabad cyber crime police when they busted a fake call center in Mohali, Punjab, for cheating foreign customers under the pretense of providing technical services. Of the seven, four are from Hyderabad.

The seven have been identified as Naveen Bhutani (41), Mohit (32), Monu (33), Nagaraju Bondada (36), Donthula Sravan Kumar (42), Sadhanala Mukkanti Srinivasa Rao (36), and Pavan Vennelakanti (34). The police seized cash Rs. 1.11 crore, 18 debit cards, 16 cheque books, 12 mobile phones, six rubber stamps, four laptops, 10 CPUs, ad three vehicles.

The police had received a complaint from the authorized signatory of HDFC Bank Credit Intelligence and control unit, Abdul Nayeem, in December 2021. Mr. Nayeem said that while monitoring transactions on the bank's swiping machines, they noticed multiple suspicious transactions on machines issued by HDFC to a merchant, Healthy Dental Clinic. Between 18 and 23 December, transactions worth Rs. 64.40 lakh were done with the merchant using 85 different international cards.

Modus operandi

The police suspected the use of clone credit cards. Upon further investigation, they learned that 85 unauthorized transactions were noticed at merchant TID through SMS pay option amounting to Rs. 64.40 lakhs. They also found that SMS pay links were delivered to the mobile numbers of Nagaraju and the amount was credited to Pavan Vennelakanti's HDFC account.

Naveen Bhutani had set up three call centers with Monu's help in New Delhi, Ghaziabad, and Punjab. Under the pretext of providing technical services, the police found that they were cheating customers. During inbound calls generated through Google Adwords, they took remote access of customers' devices to resolve the issue. The police found that no services were given to the customers but the gang was collecting payments through payment gateway links provided by Mohit

Nagaraju was collecting the money through bank accounts linked with payment gateways and was forwarding them to Mohit after deducting his commission and taxes. Mohit was offering a 50% commission to Nagaraju and Srinivas.

The accused were also receiving inbound calls generated through email or SMS about customers' recent purchases. The customers responded to these phishing emails and SMSes and ended up making transactions from their accounts. During remote access, the gang also got the bank card credentials and used them to make transactions later as OTPs or PINs are not required for international transactions.

On analyzing the bank statements, the police found that Mohit and Naveen were operating from Delhi. The Cyberabad police deputed a team to Delhi and apprehended the gang.

In the case of outbound calls, Naveen and his associates created a database of mobile numbers of customers from Australia, the UK, and Singapore. After that, telecallers searched and identified customers registered with various e-commerce sites like Amazon. Later, they tried to log in to the various sites' accounts using customers' data that resulted in an OTP being sent to the customer. Then the telecallers contacted the customers introducing themselves as tech services and collected the OTP, then logged into Amazon and other sites using the OTP and looked for transaction history.

In order to provide services, the accused convinced the customers to make a payment and collect payment. They also collected customers' card credentials like card number, expiry date, and CVV for further use. The police found that customers used to make payments during the night so that they could not block their cards or report fraud.

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