An online vigilante in the UK known as Jim Browning is sharing his story – and fascinating footage – after he managed to hack into the CCTV cameras at a scam call centre in India, allowing unprecedented insight into how these types of crooks operate.
Scams that operate out of call centres in countries like India are still extremely popular, and one such scam is the virus pop-up scam. You’re surfing the Internet and suddenly a pop-up appears telling you that your computer has become infected with a virus and to call an onscreen number immediately to remove it. Often these pop-ups are hard to close down, and can come accompanied by an alarm or warning sound. It’s enough to panic anyone not familiar with this scheme.
There isn’t anything actually wrong with the victim’s computer, but the scammers hope the victim doesn’t know that. The pop-up is designed specifically to lure the victim into calling the on-screen number – a call which then gets filtered through to a scammer in a call centre in someplace like Delhi, India. And this is where the scam begins.
The scammer can, for instance, trick the victim into handing over control of their computer, allowing the scammer to place a real virus (or other type of malware) onto the victim’s computer. Or the scammer could trick the victim into paying a charge to solve a problem that doesn’t really exist.
We discuss this type of scam in more detail here.
These scams can be extremely lucrative, and can bag the scammers tens of thousands of pounds every single month.
But online vigilante Jim Browning has been fighting back. He calls the numbers on these pop-ups to see how the crooks operate, and in many cases try and spy on them. And in 2019, Browning hit the jackpot as he managed to hack into the CCTV and call logs of one such call centre in Delhi, giving him unprecedented access to see how these scammers work, and even allowing him to watch the scammers at their computers as they talked to him and other victims.
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And now he is sharing all of it in what is certainly going to be a fascinating 4-part series on YouTube. His footage has also been used for a 30 minute BBC Panorama report.
Over a series of months, Browning as combed through numerous calls with live CCTV footage showing the crooks as they talked to him and other victims, often as they pretended to be representing Microsoft. In the series you can see the crooks both laughing and squirming as they try and con victims out of their hard earned money. In the series, you can also see the man in charge of the scam call centre, Amit Chauhan, chatting with co-workers and laughing about how they scam their victims.
The first part is available on YouTube now and you can see it below.
The second part is available on March 9th 2020.
The third part is available March 16th 2020.
And the final part is available March 23rd 2020.
And if you’re in the UK, you can see the BBC Panorama report here.
Also, here is another video from another online vigilante Karl Rock who recorded another scam call between these same crooks and a 13 year old girl. It’s a tough listen.
Remember never to call unknown numbers if they appear on your computer. And never trust unsolicited phone calls from people claiming to work for Microsoft or technical support. Scammers can claim to be anyone they want, and they can use a variety of tricks to persuade you into believing they are the real deal. If you’re ever in doubt, hang up the phone.
UPDATE. As for these call centre crooks, police raided the call centre on March 4th 2020 and took the boss Amit Chauhan into custody. We will update you with developments concerning any arrests, convictions and sentencing that we hope will result from this bust.