Digitonics Lab appears to have completely immersed itself into the realm of fraudulence, as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has unearthed an extensive series of criminal offences undertaken by the company. Under the guise of impersonated identities, Digitonics demanded significant amounts of money from its clients, threatening to revoke registrations and former payments. Worried clients would then be linked to dubious payments channels, where they would be forced to make payments. The company even alleged links with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), calling international clients under pseudonyms and attaining their credit card information, based on which they would extract paramount sums of money, unauthorized.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) raided the offices of Digitonics Lab—a software house located in two separate buildings at Shahrah-e-Faisal, Karachi—and seized relevant records of the company earlier this week. On January 14, the Cybercrime Wing (CCW) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) registered a First Information Report (FIR) against eight people, including Digitonics Lab owner Mohammad Burhan Mirza, for committing fraud.
Here’s a breakdown of why the company has been incriminated, as per the FIR.
A rundown of the allegations against Digitonics
The inquiry was registered on the basis of the source report with the subject “Operation Against International Scammers,” the FIR read. The report identified scams operating throughout Pakistan, including “fraudulent activities, identity impersonation, cheating, phishing and extortion,” revealing that scammers had different websites which allegedly “blackmailed and extorted” money from their customers after extracting their personal information by impersonating government officials of the United Kingdom (UK), United States (US) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Under this, the source report implicated prominent members of Digitonics, including owner Junaid Mansoo, CEO Burhan Mirza, and business unit head Umair Siddique.
Fake, forged certificates, suspicious material
When the FIA team reached the office of Digitonics, a significant amount of incriminating material was recovered. International clients’ credit card information was found, along with their security codes. Alongside this, fake and forged certificates, allegedly issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), were unearthed with ‘suspicious’ voice recordings and emails of the company’s clients.
Technical experts at the FIA also revealed credit card information, including card verification value (CVV) security codes, voice notes, and images for the purpose of securing funds from international and domestic clients. According to the report, international clients had complained against fraudulent unauthorized card charges by Digitonics of USD 1300 (among several others).
Blackmail and impersonation
Following the interrogation of the implicated persons, it was revealed that the up-scale agents of Digitonics were involved in blackmailing techniques like charging clients’ credit cards without their permission.
Reportedly, the agents would call their clients and threaten to blacklist their websites and businesses if they did not pay them more money.
They would also call clients under the pretense of belonging to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and demand more money, stating that in case it was unpaid, the clients’ content would not be registered with the USPTO, and all previous payments for trade marking would be confiscated.
Additionally, Digitonics call center agents would used pseudonyms when calling international clients to avoid legalities.
Twelve bank accounts recovered
Following the enquiry, it was found that the suspects, as the owners of funds received under the guise of software sales, were maintaining twelve bank accounts to launder their “ill gotten money.”
The bank accounts signify hefty transactions both internationally and locally, which do not match the profile of accounts’ signatories.
Huge salaries, large properties
The alleged entities were also paying “huge salaries” to their employees, despite their employees being professionally unqualified. According to the FIR, the heads of the company are in the possession of “large number of moveable/immoveable properties” purchased through the “process of crime.”
Illegal funding channels
The accused persons also demanded their international clients to secure payments through their own payment channel. They created payment links via client relationship management (CRM), with the same link being provided to the client through email or text, after which the client made payments. The payment then moved to the merchant account, which moved to a US bank account which then “suspiciously” moved to Pakistani bank accounts. It appears that the funds reached Pakistan from the US through illegal channels of “hundi/hawala.”
The FIR dictates that on the basis of examination of the recovered digital, documentary. and oral evidences, the accused at Digitonics are found to be International Financial Scammers involved in Electronic Forgery, Electronic Fraud and impersonation, among a plethora of other crimes.
Additional reporting by Arshad Hussain.