UPDATED March 6, 2020: Within 12 hours of the video going online, the Gurugram Police had raided this scam call center Jim Browning and his partner exposed. Incredibly fast and good work by the Gurugram Police. Here’s the image of the owners being arrested.
As the world shifts toward the digital era, cybersecurity becomes an integral aspect for companies, governments, organizations and individuals. However, millions of people around the world fall victim to scams annually.
Many of the scamming operations are run from criminal call centers where teams of fraudsters work around the clock. ‘Jim Browning’ an online vigilante decided to fight the scammers. He hacks into the scammers’ computers and exposes them online.
On March 2, 2020, Jim published a video on how he hacked into a call center in Delhi, India, in May 2019, where the scammers target unsuspecting victims from around the world. He acquired recorded scam phone calls and CCTV footage exposing the scammers while they were at work. The video got nearly 500,000 views in two days.
Although what Jim did was illegal, he said that he wants to stop these criminals, and he passed the footage on to BBC Panorama. It was unique and rare to see the scammers while they are in action. He said:
“When a scammer connected to my PC, I was able to reverse their connection and discover that they had CCTV. You’re going to see the most detailed exposé of a tech support scam ever seen on YouTube.”
These individuals have mastered their craft, enabling them to sound genuinely professional. Jim spent several months observing their activities. On one occasion, the scammers sent fake message alerts on victims’ computers and told them to contact ‘Microsoft’ for urgent technical support.
The fake calls
They provide a phony phone number that the user calls, and then they go ahead and fleece them of their money. At some point, the hackers in India lie to a caller that they are based in California.
Jim downloaded at least 70,000 phone calls from this scam center and almost all of them resulted in rip-offs on unsuspecting victims. In one of the exposed phone calls, a scammer is heard telling a victim that there will be a charge of 1,295 sterling pounds to repair the user’s system.
The victims even suffer from depression after they lose their money. Reports reveal that the UK alone receives at least 21 million scam calls every month. Scammers pretend to be computer companies, banks, retailers, and even the government.
Jim Browning strives to educate the public on how to identify scammers and how to avoid falling victims to their erroneous activities. Amit Chauhan is one of the individuals behind these scams with internal documents showing that he is making big money from the scams.
Between February 2019 and April 2019, he made over $1.1 million. When he was exposed, BBC South Asia Correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan reached him on the phone, but he hung up midway through the conversation after denying these accusations.
The authorities are trying to crack down on scam call centers, but they find the crime difficult to crack since there are no victims. The accused are also anonymous, which makes it almost impossible to link the accused with the victims who are mostly overseas.
Watch the full video on how Jim managed to hack the scammers’ CCTV system below (part 1/4, other videos will be released soon):