UK, India police shut down Kolkata call centres in major online fraud probe




British Police service on Monday said it had shut down two sophisticated criminal call centres in Kolkata, instrumental in defrauding thousands of victims in the UK alone, with the cooperation of Indian police.

The call centres were raided by 50 officers from the Cyber Division of Kolkata Police last week as part of a worldwide four-year operation conducted by the UK police and Microsoft.

Seven arrests were made and the two fraudulent call centres were put out of business. “These raids and arrests mark the successful culmination of a four-year operation. Working with Indian authorities and Microsoft, we have stopped a number of criminal call centres from preying on UK citizens,” said Commander Karen Baxter of the City of London Police. “This operation with Indian counterparts and Microsoft, whose good name was being traduced, demonstrates that whilst policing cannot hope to tackle fraud on its own, by working in partnership with businesses, we can achieve some justice for the members of the public who have fallen victim to such schemes,” she said.

The police force said that impersonation fraud of the kind perpetrated by such fraudulent call centres is one of the most prevalent types of online crimes.

In the 12 months to April 2019, City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) received over 23,500 complaints of this form of fraud.

Reported financial losses in the same period were in excess of 9 million pounds per year. 

“Make no mistake: these companies are the preserve of unscrupulous criminals who will stop at nothing to bleed their victims dry. They are very convincing, tenacious and have developed sophisticated systems in an effort to elude capture. But overseas fraudsters should see this as a warning: we will use every tactic in our power to halt your pernicious criminal activities,” Commander Baxter added.

In relation to the particular Kolkata-based scam, fraudsters would call members of the public claiming to be from Microsoft and say that their computer security had been compromised.

They would either then sell a worthless piece of software for around 200 pounds, or would dupe the victim into allowing access to their computer and any online bank accounts, which they would then drain.