Two criminal Call Centres in Kolkata, which were instrumental in defrauding thousands of victims in the UK alone, have been put out of business thanks to an operation conducted by the City of London Police and Microsoft in co-operation with the Indian police service. The Call Centres were raided by 50 officers from the cyber division of the Kolkata Police at 20.30 hours, Kolkata time, on Thursday 17 October and seven arrests were made.
Commander Karen Baxter of the City of London Police said: “These raids and arrests mark the successful culmination of a four-year operation. Working with the Indian authorities and Microsoft, we’ve stopped a number of criminal Call Centres from preying on UK citizens. Make no mistake: these companies are the preserve of unscrupulous criminals who will stop at nothing to bleed their victims dry. They’re very convincing and tenacious and have developed sophisticated systems in an effort to elude capture.”
Commander Baxter added: “Overseas fraudsters should see this as a warning that we will use every tactic in our power to halt their pernicious criminal activities. This operation with Indian counterparts and Microsoft, whose good name was being traduced, demonstrates that, while policing cannot hope to tackle fraud on its own, by working in partnership with businesses we can achieve some justice for those members of the public who have fallen victim to such schemes.”
Impersonation fraud, such as this, is one of the most prevalent types of fraud. In the 12 months to April 2019, the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau received over 23,500 complaints of this form of fraud. Reported financial losses in the same period were in excess of £9 million per year.
Fraudsters call members of the public, claiming to be from Microsoft, and saying that their computer security had been compromised. They would either then sell a worthless piece of software for around £200, or would dupe the victim into allowing access to their computer and any online bank accounts, which they would then drain. It’s believed this form of crime is under-reported by as much as 60%.
Hugh Milward, head of corporate and legal affairs at Microsoft UK, stated: “This sort of deception will not go away and effective public-private partnerships are essential if we’re to combat sophisticated cyber criminals who operate on a global scale. We’re working with law enforcement here in the UK and internationally to tackle these crimes. These arrests are a great result for people who’ve been targeted by, or otherwise fallen victim to these fraudsters. We would like to reassure all users of our software that Microsoft will never cold call them out of the blue to offer unsolicited tech support. The best way to report these scams is via the Action Fraud website.”