CBI busts cybercrime module targeting foreigners, coercing them for payments

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) busted a major cybercrime module targeting foreign nationals, including that from the United States, through fake call centres during its searches at 24 locations across states. The searches, spread across Delhi, Noida, Gurugram and Gujarat, resulted in the seizure of a trove of digital evidence, Rs 2.2 crore in cash, documents related to properties and cryptocurrency, the central agency said on Wednesday. It added that the matter pertains to a slew of alleged crimes where foreign nationals were allegedly coerced for payments. The CBI said the searches were carried out in connection to an FIR it had lodged in July against a group – allegedly run by a person named Sushil Sachdeva and his associates – for targeting gullible foreigners through fraudulent schemes and making “millions of calls” through call centres to cheat them. The CBI action was part of an ongoing investigation in which a number of cyber criminals have been booked, the agency said. According to the CBI, a case was registered on July 7 last year on allegations that multiple call centres in India utilised the services of a Gujarat-based VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) company to orchestrate millions of fraudulent calls targeting US citizens. The companies running the fake call centres would falsely associate themselves with banking and financial institutions and then coerce their victims, including foreign nationals, to pay a fee, fine or tax while disclosing their bank account details and credentials. The scam was allegedly in operation since 2015. “It was alleged perpetrators behind these crimes impersonated entities such as the US federal grant department and IRS, through VOIP calls. It was further alleged that the modus operandi involved sending robo/audio calls impersonating officials from US federal departments,” a spokesperson from CBI said.

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