Fake Amazon and Microsoft call centers busted

In a nationwide crackdown against cybercrime, Indian authorities raided 76 illegal call centers impersonating Amazon and Microsoft tech support.

The operation, called Chakra-II, was carried out by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) with help from Amazon and Microsoft, both companies confirmed in separate statements.

The raids took place in multiple locations in at least 11 states, according to the CBI. It said that it confiscated 32 mobile phones, 48 laptops and hard disks, images of two servers, 33 SIM cards and various pen drives.

Numerous bank accounts were also frozen and 15 email accounts seized, “illuminating the intricate web of deceit spun by the accused,” the CBI said.

It did not mention the number of arrests made during the operation. The illegal call centers impacted more than 2,000 Amazon and Microsoft customers primarily based in the US, but also in Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, and the UK.

Amazon and Microsoft supported the operation by making a joint criminal referral, which marks the first time the two companies have collaborated to combat tech support fraud.

“The joint referral enabled the exchange of actionable intelligence and insights with CBI and other international law enforcement agencies to help them take action at scale,” Microsoft said.

“We firmly believe that partnerships like these are not only necessary but pivotal in creating a safer online ecosystem and in extending our protective reach to a larger number of individuals,” it said.

For its own part, Amazon said: “Together, the companies are setting a precedent for the power of industry collaboration and the collective impact it can have in holding bad actors accountable.”

“Amazon will remain vigilant and persistent in our efforts to stay one step ahead of fraudsters, but we cannot win this fight alone. We encourage others in the industry to join us as a united front against criminal activity.”

According to the FBI, call center fraud cost victims more than $1 billion in losses last year in the US alone, with fraudsters overwhelmingly targeting the elderly. Almost half the victims reported to be over 60 and accounted for 69%, or over $724 million, of losses.

The scams primarily emanate from South Asia, with India being the hotbed of call center fraud, according to the FBI.

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