Dismantled in Madrid a "call center" used to defraud thousands of people by supplanting delinquency files

Operation framed in the Plan of Shock established by the National Police against Fraud and Cyber-Crime

Dismantled in Madrid a "call center" used to defraud thousands of people by supplanting delinquency files

The call center had more than 50 operator positions for the daily uninterrupted management of hundreds of fraudulent calls, pretending to be intermediaries in charge of paying off debts of defaulters

The operators kept the users on the phone as long as possible, through multiple silences and the supposed performance of procedures that had no other purpose than to extend the call unnecessarily to increase the rate

Each victim suffered an average scam of about 1,000 euros on their telephone bill, although there were hardly any complaints as they did not perceive it as a fraud but as a legal procedure due to its impeccable design and operation

After an investigation of more than three years, the seven heads of the companies holding the individual tariff numbers and the rest of the companies have been arrested.

§ More than 220,000 euros in cash, although the researchers estimate that the economic benefit obtained by the organization exceeds 4 million euros

July 19, 2019.- Agents of the National Police have dismantled a criminal organization that allegedly cheated thousands of people by supplanting delinquency files. The criminal group had a call center [center] from which they charged an average amount of 1,000 euros per victim on their telephone bill. The seven detainees passed themselves off as intermediaries of the delinquency files to eliminate the amount of the alleged debts, although later the money remained and the debt continued to exist. Most of the victims did not perceive the fraud because the design and operation of the criminal process so impeccable that it appeared to be legal, so that there have been few complaints.

This operation is part of the Shock Plan established by the Central Cybercrime Unit of the National Police against fraud. Recently, agents specializing in the fight against cyber-attacks have carried out two important operations that, in their total, has allowed the detention of 69 people.

They used legal trademarks without authorization

The investigation began in mid-2016 when the operation of this criminal organization was detected. The way of acting consisted in using different web pages that offered management services for the rights of access, rectification, cancellation and opposition in the different asset and credit solvency files. These services were offered by the criminal group in a supposedly gratuitous manner through the merchants that they had constituted, when they actually led the users to initiate a process that included different calls for additional charging in a fraudulent way, which supposed a high economic loss for the victims.

The companies that actually manage the asset and credit solvency files, have a free service so that users can know what data they work in the National Association of Financial Credit Establishments and can request the rectification or cancellation of the same. However, the procedure carried out by the detainees consisted of using additional charging numbers for users to contact their companies, profiting financially for this and without offering the victims the service they were supposed to provide.

The companies of the detainees used without authorization the trademarks that were the property of the real managers of the delinquency files. Next, they made their web pages to transmit to the users an appearance of credibility and legality and to simulate that they were the true owners of the patrimonial solvency files.

Calls of up to 30 minutes

To maximize the economic benefits and harm to victims, operators kept users on the phone as long as possible through multiple silences and the alleged performance of procedures that had no other purpose than to lengthen calls unnecessarily to increase the rate. Often, these calls could reach 30 minutes, which is the maximum time allowed by law for calls to additional rate numbers.

In the event that the victims contacted the company to request information about the delinquency files, and were not included in any of them, the investigated always responded by default that the user could be included in at least two files of delinquency and indicated that the additional rate number should be called to continue the process. They were told that this number was free and subsidized and that the average duration of the call would be five minutes. However, it was never possible to end the consultation process in a single call, even if the user was not included in the delinquency files, thus forcing him to make several calls without receiving any consideration from the companies investigated and with great damage economic. The detainees obtained enormous incomes: in only one of the multiple telephones that they used they could obtain benefits superiors to the 80,000 Euros.

They ended the scam by appropriating the money supposedly owed by the victims

To make themselves known and increase the number of possible victims, they did not hesitate to carry out an addwords campaign to position their web pages in the first places of the search engines. In this way, when a user made a search on the Internet to search for information related to delinquency files, instead of appearing in the first place the legal pages, those of the company reported appeared.

The agents found that the criminal activities were not limited to using additional charging numbers to obtain the victims' money, but also, at the end of the telephone process, they sent the victim a report with the money they supposedly owed and that they had to pay. enter to be able to leave the delinquency files. That money was kept by the detainees and they did not use it to get the victims out of the delinquency files, so the scammed people ran out of money and were still included in those files.

They used screen companies and figureheads to avoid detection

In the course of the investigation it was detected that those investigated, over which they weighed more than 15 requests for their criminal activities, began to move to the background to avoid detection and began to use screen companies and figureheads as visible heads of their activities illicit In addition, to evade the action of justice, the two principal investigators frequently changed their address. For this reason it was quite difficult to locate them by the researchers.

Due to the continuous change of companies and bank accounts used to receive the proceeds of the scam, at the moment it is not possible to quantify exactly the amount of the fraud investigated, although if you take into account that there are thousands of victims and that the money obtained from each of them can be close to 1,000 euros, the illicit benefit obtained by detainees exceeds four million euros.

Intervened 220,000 euros in cash

Once all the information was obtained, the agents established the corresponding operative device and registered the call center located in a locality of Madrid.

The police intervened and seized more than 220,000 euros in cash as well as numerous electronic devices from the call center from where they handled the calls with documentation relating to billing and to the company's customers and physical documentation. They also seized numerous objects of great value acquired with the proceeds of criminal activity.

Plan of Shock of the National Police against Fraud and Cyber-Crime

This operation is part of the Anti-Fraud and Ciberestafa Crash Plan established by the National Police. Recently, agents specializing in the fight against ciberrestafas, belonging to the Central Cybercrime Unit, carried out one of the most important operations against this criminal modality, by arresting 45 people who were part of a complex network that had managed to defraud some 2400 victims. The researchers identified 286 bank accounts that were used to channel their illicit profits and requested the blocking of 39 fraudulent web pages, pages that were created imitating others of consolidated and reliable companies and where they offered articles mainly of electronics and telephony, committing the scams.

In addition, in another operation, 24 people were arrested who were part of an international network that fraudulently used cards linked to Wallet and NFC systems of mobile payment apps. The detainees appropriated by phishing the bank credentials of more than 300 injured and defrauded more than 1,000,000 euros per year that were laundered through the purchase of cryptocurrencies

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