Indian police break up international computer virus scam

Indian police have arrested nearly two dozen people on suspicion of defrauding victims around the world by sending fake pop-up messages warning them that their computers were infected with a virus and offering to rectify the problem at a price.

Police spokesman Ajay Pal Sharma said those arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday posed as authorised representatives of Microsoft and other companies and used their logos.

The arrests were made after input from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Interpol, Mr Sharma said.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Alleged fraudsters are presented before media at a police station in a New Delhi suburb (Altaf Qadri/AP)</figcaption>
Alleged fraudsters are presented before media at a police station in a New Delhi suburb (Altaf Qadri/AP)

Microsoft was the complainant in the case.

He said those arrested have been running the scam out of call centres in the Indian capital and the neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for months.

The pop-up messages prompted victims in the United States, Britain, Australia and other countries to call a phone number shown on their computer screens, he said.

They would then be scammed out of money in exchange for supposedly fixing the problem.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Indian policemen carry seized computer hardware and other items in Noida, a suburb of New Delhi (Altaf Qadri/AP)</figcaption>
Indian policemen carry seized computer hardware and other items in Noida, a suburb of New Delhi (Altaf Qadri/AP)

Those arrested were mostly people in their twenties and early thirties who quit their jobs in call centres.

Police recovered hard drives, servers, laptops, mobile phones and computers from them, Mr Sharma said.

In 2016, Mumbai police arrested 70 people for allegedly cheating thousands of Americans.

They would call their victims from call centres in Mumbai and tell them that they owed unpaid taxes and should buy prepaid cash cards to settle the debts or face jail.

- Press Association

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