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Credit card fraud in India on the increase


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March 23, 2009

Performed last week, an undercover investigation by the BBC has exposed new evidence of the theft of credit card details by workers at an Indian call centre used by security giant Symantec.

Posing as a fraudster, a BBC reporter allegedly bought stolen valid U.K. credit card details from a Delhi-based individual who denies any wrongdoing. Three of the victims of the crime had bought software renewals from a call centre which handles Symantec software licences.

In a company statement, Symantec says it has now launched a full-fledged investigation into the incident, which is thought to be isolated to India. Meanwhile, Symantec is offering credit monitoring services to the three confirmed victims.

Upon notification by the BBC of this situation, Symantec immediately launched an internal investigation. We are still determining the facts behind this allegation but there is no indication that Symantec's online network has been compromised, least not yet.

Nevertheless, and as a precaution before the investigation was completed, Symantec said it was extending an offer for credit monitoring services to the three customers in question.

"As we continue our investigation, we will promptly notify any additional customers impacted by the situation and will take appropriate action to protect the interests of our customers. Any customer who believes they may have been impacted by this situation should email their contact information to:," suggested Symantec's company statement.

It isn't the first time evidence of call centre fraud in India has been exposed by undercover reporters. Channel 4's Dispatches and The Sun newspaper have each run separate undercover operations to expose similar crimes over recent years.

In February, it was reported that another Indian call centre was also under suspicion for using the identities of Britons to mount an insurance fraud scam. The BBC team latched onto the issue following a tip-off that put them in touch with a suspected credit card fence.

The BBC even managed to film subsequent meetings, one of which took place in a Delhi coffee shop. The BBC reporters were offered hundreds of plastic card details each week at a price of $10 dollars per card, more than double the online going rate!

The BBC reporters agreed to buy a sample of fifty cards, receiving fourteen initially at the meeting and a promise that the remainder would be sent by email later. The seller claimed the numbers were taken from call centers that handle telephone bills and wireless phone sales from the U.S. and other countries.

The BBC team found that the name and addresses details of card holders sold to them were consistently valid but the card numbers were invalid, usually because the supplied digits were out by one number. But over 14 percent of the card details were valid and referred to credit cards in active use by U.K. customers.

The BBC contacted the owners of these cards and warned them of the issues. Three of those affected had bought Norton Security subscriptions for their PCs over the phone within hours of each other.

Published March 19, the latest numbers from banking industry association APACS reveal that credit card fraud losses were above £609.8m last year. Phone, Internet and mail order fraud made up more than £328.3m of this total, up from £290.4m two years ago.

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Source: The BBC.


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