London: Nearly 60,000 Britons have become victims of a multi-million-pound c and Internet fraud.
Investigators believe the number of people cheated makes it one of the biggest frauds ever carried out in the UK from overseas.
According to the Daily Mail, more than 1,000 people a day who had legitimately sought unsecured loans with banks and finance companies were being ‘cold called’ from call centers in New Delhi, with 100 of them daily being duped into signing-up and paying a ‘processing fee’ to secure non-existent cash.
A special Delhi police cell, normally focusing on anti-terrorist operations, is heading the investigations after a request from the British High Commission and the Serious Organized Crime Agency, the UK’s national police agency.
Indian police said that at a ‘conservative estimate’ they believe around 10 million pounds was cheated out of UK citizens seeking loans, the report said.
Most victims have been cheated of small amount ranging from 90 to 250 pounds, but one man lost more than 200,000 pounds as he ‘chased’ his promised loan.
Detectives said that they believe they have now burst the gang, with three Indian men arrested on suspicion of a ‘deep-rooted conspiracy’ to commit fraud using electronic equipment.
However, others remain on the run in the UK and India.
According to the report, none of those held have links to Britain, although one was previously at the centre of an investigation into an Indian-based computer theft from UK credit cards.
Among the finance companies they claimed to run was Max Infotech, based in offices above a motorbike repair shop in Pitampura, in north-west Delhi.
The case has highlighted the disturbing ease with which fraudsters purchased confidential personal details and data provided to various Internet sites.
Crucially, the details obtained included the fact that an individual was seeking a loan, the amount required, his or her telephone number, email address, date of birth and home address.
Callers from Delhi with excellent English speaking over Skype or the web pretended they were in the UK and often referred the victim to the fictitious ‘references’ of satisfied clients already on the Internet.
The victim was then told that while the full loan had been approved, a one-off processing fee was required.
Initially, the Indian-based fraudsters requested this was paid through money transfer firms MoneyGram or Western Union.
Police said that the operation became so successful that the fraudsters were forced to out-source to call centres around Delhi, the report added.