CBI searches 6 corporations over laptop tech assist fraud, recovers belongings value Rs 190 crore

New Delhi, October 16

The CBI has recovered assets worth Rs 190 crore during its searches against six companies booked for targeting Microsoft customers through a technical support scam, an investigation which has received praise from United States’ Department of Justice, officials said Friday.

During its searches on September 17, the agency also seized gold worth Rs 55 lakh, cash totaling Rs 25 lakh and a plethora of digital evidence indicating alleged nefarious activities of the six accused companies, based in Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, Spokesperson RK Gaur said in a statement on Friday.

The CBI is collaborating with US agencies and authorities of other friendly countries against the fraudsters who allegedly took remote control of computers of users by sending them a pop-up message of malware presence on their systems, Gaur said.

Once the user dialled the number given on the pop-up, he was directed at call centre executives who demanded huge sums of money to clean the non-existent malware and also installed unnecessary damaging softwares on the users’ computers, he said.

The central agency had conducted searches at the premises of accused companies—New Delhi-based Softwill Infotech Private Limited and Saburi TLC Worldwide Services Pvt. Ltd, Jaipur-based Innovana Think labs Limited and Systweak Software Private Limited, Noida-based Benovellient Technologies Private Limited, Noida and Gurugram-based Saburi Global Services Pvt Ltd.

The searches were spread across various locations including Jaipur, Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Mainpuri (Uttar Pradesh) at the premises of private companies and residential premises of accused persons in an on-going investigation of the case, Gaur said.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement on Thursday that in an “unprecedented collaborative” effort, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in India took actions in parallel with today’s filing against corporate and individual participants in the scheme located in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, and Jaipur..

“The Department of Justice sincerely appreciates the CBI’s efforts to disrupt and prosecute technical-support fraud, government imposter fraud, and all other schemes directed at the American public,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Civil Division said in a statement in the US.

The US authorities have filed a complaint in a Florida court against the scam on which the court on Thursday has issued a restraining order to dismantle internet based infrastructure of the alleged fraudsters.

According to the complaint, Michael Brian Cotter, 59, of Glendale, California, knowingly provided US support for India-based accomplices in furtherance of the scheme, the DOJ statement said.

“Cotter facilitated the scheme through several companies, including Singapore registered Global Digital Concierge Pte. Ltd., formerly known as Tech Live Connect Pte. Ltd., Nevada registered companies Sensei Ventures Incorporated and NE Labs Inc., New York registered Kevisoft LLC, and United Kingdom registered Kevisoft UK LTD. The temporary restraining order issued by the court today dismantles these defendants’ US infrastructure, such as websites and payment processing relationships, and prohibits the defendants from continuing to facilitate the alleged scheme,” it said.

The complaint has alleged that Cotter was working with Indian conspirators since 2011 to set up domains, setting up shell companies and putting in place payment infrastructure through banks and payment operators.

“Individual victims are alleged to have reported paying hundreds to thousands of dollars to the scheme for unwanted and unnecessary technical-support services,” it said.

Gaur said similar coordination is being done by the CBI with federal agencies of the other countries. 

The CBI has been making concerted efforts to identify and rapidly dismantle any such network of transnational cyber frauds operated out of India, he said. PTI

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