News : Rise of the Call Centre Criminals
Hyderabad, India, Oct 19, 2015 -- Age: 28. Educational Qualification: Graduate. Occupation: Call centre employee.
This is the typical profile of a new-age cyber criminal operating from the city. Though in 'business' for a few years, the headcount of these fraudsters have suddenly gone up, thanks to the ease of making money in this way.
Their modus operandi: get an American or British accent, gain access into the BPO industry and then siphon off critical information of callers seeking financial assistance.
"Several call centres manage backend services for banks. This gives its staffers access to crucial information about customers. Hoping to cash in on this, they supply this classified information to 'gangs' outside, who in turn use it to dupe people," said a senior police officer. In return, they make anywhere between a few thousand to a few lakh rupees on every 'deal'.
Nigerian fraud gangs, on the other hand, have a different modus operandi in which they purchase information from rogue sites.
"It's impossible to carry out an operation of this nature without the help of insiders. It is most definitely the handiwork of some call centre employees who have access to customer data.They are stealing it and putting it on sale," said a cyber crime official, adding how this data at present is being mainly used by Indian fraudsters who cheat people in the name of offering free mobile recharge, jobs, foreign trips and lotteries.
Another official explained how the fake job industry has also become a huge source of income for unemployed youth, who buy resumes legally from job portals by posing as head hunters and then sell them for illegal purposes. "They collect about Rs 2 for each resume. While that might sound like a petty amount, the deal rakes in a lot of moolah considering they sell thousands of resumes at a time," the official added.
In some cases, these call centre 'crooks' give up their jobs to float their own fly-bynight offices. Some also enter partnerships with teams operating out of Delhi, Allahabad and Noida. Together they set up shop and use the services of trained tele-callers to lure customers into shelling out big bucks.
"It is a syndicate of call center employees, ex-employees, information sellers and hardened fraudsters.It is learnt that sometimes they even employ `brokers' to procure information," shared a cyber crime expert.
But nabbing them isn't an easy task. Though the local police force only recently caught 14 young men running a similar business, officials confess it is merely the tip of the iceberg. "Most of those who get caught are only small pawns in the game. The biggies always manage to flee.
That's because of two reasons: firstly , it's close to impossible to make those who are nabbed divulge details about the gang and secondly, banks, from where the data is stolen, do not always cooperate with the police," rued a police official.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, October 20, 2015