Indian authorities raid fake tech support rings after tipoff from Amazon and Microsoft

Also went after crypto-crooks who sought money to buy miners for fake token

Acting on information from Microsoft and Amazon, India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has raided alleged fake tech support operators and other tech-related crims across the country.

The Bureau shared news of a Thursday operation that saw it conduct 76 searches in relation to five cases.

The Bureau stated its effort "was conducted in collaboration with national and international agencies, alongside private sector giants," and described two of its targets as international tech support fraud scams that "impersonated a global IT major and a multinational corporation with an online technology-driven trading platform."

The alleged scammers operated call centers in five regions of India and "systematically preyed on foreign nationals, masquerading as technical support representatives" for at least five years.

The scammers sent users pop-up messages that appeared to come from multinational companies and advised of PC problems – with a toll-free number at which assistance could be had.

Victims who called the fakers had their PCs taken over, and were charged hundreds of dollars for a fix.

The raids also targeted a cryptocurrency fraud detected by the Financial Intelligence Unit-India (FIU-India).

Even by the sad standards of crypto-crooks cashing in on the credulous, this one was a cracker. It sought investors willing to fund the purchase of mining machines – for a cryptocurrency that did not yet exist.

"The profits generated from minted cryptocurrencies would purportedly be distributed among the investors," the Bureau explained. Investment was solicited via an app, which scooped over $20 million (₹168.75 crore) – all of which disappeared without a single mining machine coming online.

The Bureau found a complex structure of shell companies behind the scheme, used to channel funds to backers with the help of money mules.

Microsoft's post about its part in the raids revealed it's the first time the software giant has teamed with Amazon to target tech support fraud.

"We invite others across the industry to join us in this united front against criminal activity," the post states, adding that Microsoft views the resurgence of tech support scams as inevitable and further collaboration as essential to detect and disrupt such activity.

India's CBI said its investigations were assisted by the FBI, Interpol, the UK's National Crime Agency, Germany's Bundeskriminalamt, and Singapore Police.

Speaking of Singapore ...
The Indian raids took place on the same day that David Koh, chief executive of the Cybersecurity Agency of Singapore (CSA), warned that scammers have advanced their techniques to trick users into downloading malicious software to their phones.

After the malware is instaled, the scammers can steal online banking credentials and make transactions.

“Once the malware has taken over the phone, and the bank has sent you a one-time password (OTP), it’s all compromised,” Koh told journalists on the sidelines of the nation’s 8th Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW).

The cyber chief called the technique “the biggest challenge” his team currently faces. - Laura Dobberstein



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