Microsoft and Amazon join forces to dismantle a vast Indian scammer network

South Park clip caricaturing an Indian in IT support

Microsoft and Amazon have joined forces to assist Indian authorities in dismantling a scammer network specialized in tech support fraud.

Based on information provided by the two tech giants, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in India conducted operations against illegal call centers across the country that claimed to provide tech support to their victims.

Indian authorities have announced having conducted 76 raids in connection with five separate cases.

These call centers operated in five different regions of India, impersonating major multinational companies, especially posing as technical support representatives from these companies.

The pop-up trick

The technique is simple and well-practiced: these scammers send pop-ups to users, claiming their computer has issues, and provide a toll-free number for assistance. Victims who dial this number see their computers hacked and are charged hundreds of dollars for alleged repairs.

In total, the scammers in question are believed to have defrauded over 2,000 Amazon and Microsoft customers, primarily based in the US, but also in Canada, Germany, Australia, Spain, and the UK.

In addition to these scams, the CBI also identified a cryptocurrency-related scam, enabling the fraudsters to amass over 20 million dollars through an app. The funds were then routed through a complex network of shell companies.

All hands on deck

The statement released by Microsoft highlights the importance of this collaboration with Amazon, describing it as a first of its kind to combat tech support fraud.

The Redmond firm also emphasizes the significance of industry-wide collaboration to detect and disrupt these illegal activities.

India’s effort to dismantle this scammer network was also supported by international agencies such as the FBI, Interpol, the UK’s National Crime Agency, the German Federal Criminal Police Office, and Singapore Police.

Microsoft uses this announcement to stress the safety of its users. The company reminds everyone that it never proactively reaches out to users via email or phone for personal or financial information: any communication with Microsoft should be initiated by the user. The company also encourages anyone suspecting they have been contacted by fraudsters posing as Microsoft to report the incident via their online reporting tool.

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