Tue, 28 Sep 2021

New Delhi [India], August 5 (ANI): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday carried out searches at five locations in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan in connection with its ongoing money laundering probe against six firms accused of taking remote control of computers of users by sending them a pop-up message of malware presence on their systems and warnings about serious technical problems.

Multiple teams of the ED began their raids in the morning at the office premises of the six accused firms and their employees in the National Capital, Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad and Noida, Haryana's Gurugram and Rajasthan's Jaipur.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in September last year registered a case against New Delhi-based Softwill Infotech Pvt Ltd and Saburi TLC Worldwide Services Pvt Ltd, Jaipur-based Innovana Think labs Ltd and Systweak Software Pvt Ltd, Noida-based Benovellient Technologies Pvt Ltd and Gurugram-based Saburi Global Services Pvt Ltd and unknown others on a complaint.

It was alleged that these companies transmitted pop-ups to the victims' personal computers with warnings or bogus messages about serious technical problems including malware infection.

The CBI then said that the employees of these companies allegedly advise the victims to install certain anti-malware or anti-virus, which are essentially PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs). Then victims were allegedly given the option to activate PUPs. The victims were fraudulently influenced in the manner that they fell into the trap to maintain their systems properly.

It was also alleged that the victims were made to pay online by clicking the link on the interface for resolving the non-existent problem or when they ask the call centres to seek resolution of the fake problems.

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

The CBI on September 17 last year also conducted searches at 10 locations including Rajasthan's Jaipur, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh's Noida and Mainpuri, Haryana's Gurugram and Faridabad at the premises of these companies and the residential premises of other persons.

The agency then seized gold worth Rs 55 lakh, cash totaling Rs 25 lakh and a plethora of digital evidence in the raids indicating alleged nefarious activities of the six accused companies.

The ED later initiated a money-laundering probe in the case.

US authorities also filed a complaint in Florida court against the scam on which the court then issued a restraining order to dismantle the internet-based infrastructure of the alleged fraudsters.

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

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. (ANI)

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