Citizens' Issues
US crackdown on online fraud schemes from India

According to the FTC, one group of individuals, are based in West Bengal and the other group operate from Rajasthan

Washington: Several online fraud schemes, mainly operating from India, that duped people in countries like the US, UK and Canada into paying to clean their computers of bogus virus infections, have been shut down by US authorities in a crackdown on so-called tech support scams, reports PTI.


At the request of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a US District Court Judge ordered a halt to six alleged tech support scams pending further hearings, and has frozen their assets.


The FTC charged that the operations 'mostly based in India' target English-speaking consumers in the US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and Britain.


According to the FTC, five of the six used telemarketing boiler rooms to call consumers. The sixth lured consumers by placing ads with Google which appeared when consumers searched for their computer company's tech support telephone number.


The FTC cases targeted 14 corporate defendants and 17 individual defendants in 6 legal filings, Pecon Software Ltd, Finmaestros LLC, Zeal IT Solutions Pvt Ltd, Virtual PC Solutions, Lakshmi Infosoul Services Pvt Ltd, and PCCare247, Inc, and individual defendants in each of the cases; majority of whom are Indians and based in India.


"In these outrageous and disturbing cons you get a call from someone pretending to be from a major computer company who dupes you into thinking you have a virus on your computer.


"At one level, it's like a bad Bollywood movie, but at another level it's a ripoff of consumers," the FTC Chairman, Jon Leibowitz, said during a conference call.


According to the FTC, after getting the consumers on the phone, the telemarketers allegedly claimed they were affiliated with legitimate companies, including Dell, Microsoft, McAfee, and Norton, and told consumers they had detected malware that posed an imminent threat to their computers.


To demonstrate the need for immediate help, the scammers directed consumers to a utility area of their computer and falsely claimed that it demonstrated that the computer was infected.


The scammers then offered to rid the computer of malware for fees ranging from $49 to $450, FTC said.


When consumers agreed to pay the fee for fixing the "problems," the telemarketers directed them to a website to enter a code or download a software programme that allowed the scammers remote access to the consumers' computers.


Once the telemarketers took control of the consumers' computers, they "removed" the non-existent malware and downloaded otherwise free programmes, it said.


FTC papers filed with the court alleged that the scammers hoped to avoid detection by consumers and law enforcers by using virtual offices that were actually just mail-forwarding facilities, and by using 80 different domain names and 130 different phone numbers.


One group of individuals, according to the FTC, are based in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal; the other group of Indians charged operate from northwestern state of Rajasthan.


Srei InfraFin sells its entire 38% stake in Quippo Prakash for $122 million

Srei Infra unit Quippo Oil and Gas Infra sold its entire 38% stake in derrick lay barge 'Quippo Prakash' to SapuraKencana of Malaysia for $122 million

Mumbai: Private sector lender Srei Infrastructure Finance (SIFL) on Thursday said it has sold its 38% stakes in the derrik lay barge Quippo Prakash to a Malaysian firm SapuraKencana for a realisation of $122 million, reports PTI.
"Srei Infrastructure's subsidiary, Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure, has sold its investment in the derrick lay barge 'Quippo Prakash' to SapuraKencana of Malaysia for $122 million," the company said in a statement.
The Kolkata-based company had a 38% stake in Quippo Prakash through Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure, a 100% subsidiary of Srei Infrastructure Finance.
The investment in the barge was made in 2008, at a time when the downturn in the offshore markets allowed Quippo to negotiate favorable terms from shipyards, Srei's vice-chairman Sunil Kanoria said.
"The offshore oil and gas construction market has shown a sharp upswing since the time Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure had invested in the vessel. Having invested when the market had bottomed out, Quippo took advantage of the present buoyant conditions to exit its investment," he said.
Srei has been creating a portfolio of strategic investments over the past years and as and when there is an opportunity of encashing with a good return, it does so, he said.
"Outfitted in Singapore and commissioned in 2010, the state-of-the-art offshore construction support barge upon delivery was placed on term charter with a major offshore contractor in South East Asia, generating positive returns and cash-flows immediately," Kanoria said.
Equipped with a 2,000 million tonne crane, the barge was designed to provide offshore construction support and underwater pipe-lay capability, the release said.
Increasing levels of activity in the subsea construction market, the vessel had generated considerable interest amongst major offshore contractors, he added.


Fulcrum Venture likely to float PE fund with Rs120 crore corpus

Fulcrum Venture is planning to float a third-party private equity fund of about Rs60 crore to Rs120 crore that will provide growth capital to companies

Mumbai: Fulcrum Venture India, an angel investment fund, is planning to float a third-party private equity (PE) fund with a corpus of Rs120 crore, which will provide growth capital to companies, reports PTI quoting a top company official.
"We are considering to float a third party PE fund that will invest growth capital in companies. The corpus we are looking to raise will be in the range of Rs60 crore and Rs120 crore," Fulcrum's Founder-Partner Krishna Ramanathan told PTI.
He also said that the company would start talks with potential investors soon and commit around Rs25 crore to the proposed fund.
Fulcrum Venture, which enters a company at an early stage as part of its angel investment mandate, will also increase its ticket size after it sets up the PR fund.
"As part of angel investment, our ticket size is usually below Rs5 crore. However, we will invest in the range of Rs5 crore and Rs15 crore from the proposed private equity fund," he said.
Fulcrum Venture, which recently exited Chennai-based real estate developer Casa Grande, made a sound return of Rs50 crore by offloading its entire stake in the company.
"We are looking at investing in two more companies in the near future. Talks are at an advanced stage," he said, referring to the company's forthcoming investments as an angel investor.
He also said that the company may consider exiting some of its earlier investments.


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