CHENNAI: Have you received a job offer mail from any of the reputed companies or government portal? Watch out. You just mi ght have been ‘spoofed’. The recent arrest of a former techie in Chennai has blown the lid off a job racket in which crores of rupees were swindled from unemployed IT people using the email ID of his previous employer, a popular tech firm, police said.
Prabhu’s luxurious life, which saw him raking in at least Rs 50 lakh per year was put an end on Wednesday when the Adyar Cyber Crime police arrested him. The 31-year-old from Tambaram worked in an IT firm in the city, drawing a salary of Rs 25,000. Police said, in 2015, he started cheating people after promising them jobs in the company and was subsequently arrested.
Blackmarked since then, Prabhu used a different modus operandi to slip under the radar, police said. The issue came to light when one of the victims, Amarnath from Kottivakkam, lodged a complaint with Adyar Cyber Cell on Tuesday, saying he was cheated to the tune of Rs 20,500 by a fraudster. Police said Prabhu joined hands with Solomon from Ambattur, whom he met in prison and his friend Yuvaraj, to carry out the scam.
“Yuvraj worked in a bar. He and Solomon met several migrant labourers and daily wage labourers a t the liquor shop and asked for their bank details, ATM cards and SIM cards registered in their name for a price of Rs 5,000. This way, Prabhu was escaping the police whenever a complaint was lodged. The police would mistakenly nab the labourer and the lat ter would eventually be let off with a warning,” said V Vikraman, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Adyar. Meanwhile, Prabhu set up a small office at Kolathur and registered it as a financing company, police said.
He also registered himself as a ‘consultant’ on job searching sites like Quikr and Naukri. Prabhu would receive details of people with IT and tech backgrounds, looking for a job, for Rs 5,000 onwards from the website. “Like he used to at the IT company, Prabhu set targets for each project. In a single project, he would collect details of at least 300 people and target Rs 15 lakh over a period of 3-6 months.
Before moving to the next objective, he would discard the ATM cards, SIM card, and destroy the phone. He made sure no one suspected him for a few months,” Sub-Inspector of Police Maharajan from the Adyar Cyber Cell told Express.
A spoofing attack is a situation in which a person or program successfully identifies oneself as another by falsifying data to gain an illegitimate advantage. Spoofing can apply to emails, phone calls,and websites, or can be more technical, such as a computer spoofing an IP address, Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) or Domain Name System (DNS) server.
Police said Prabhu used a website to spoof the email ID of a HR from his former company. “Since he worked for some years in the IT company, he knew how to conduct an interview by asking technical questions and also knew the email ID of members in the Human Resources team. This came in handy for Prabhu as he photo-shopped his own job offer letter he had received years ago and sent it to the victims,” said V Vikraman.
Busting the fraudster
On November 3, Amarnath from Kottivakkam lodged a complaint with the Adyar Cyber Cell. The fraudster had asked for a bribe to appoint him to the post of Senior Analyst in a well-known IT firm. The cyber cell team investigated and found the location of the office to be in Paper Mills Road in Velan Nagar near Kolathur.
After two days of surveillance, the police team nabbed the accused. Prabhu, Solomon and Yuvaraj were remanded in judicial custody. The police team also seized two laptops, 4 ATM cards and a car. “We urge the public and job aspirants not to believe any mails that approach them even if they looked authentic. Spoofed mail have an alert or warning claiming it has virus. Moreover, no private company would ask for money before joining work,” warned Vikraman.