A British software engineer, who goes by the pseudonym Jim Browning, is well-known for actively hunting down scammers and fraudsters operating in call centers, mainly in India, for the past four years.
In a video posted in August 2019, Browning shows an example of a scam where a victim will receive an “emergency call from VISA secure” claiming that there were unauthorized transactions of 600 GBP from his account, which would prompt the victim to call the fake customer service.
According to Browning, these messages are designed to alarm potential victims and are a ruse to gain access to people’s bank accounts via remote access software.
Browning called the fake customer service, and a scammer told him that someone from “Manchester” had attempted to steal hiss money via “the help of internet line”.
Later, another woman calling from “network terminal department” requested Browning to log in to his bank account “to check if the scammers had added any payees to his bank account”.
Pretending to be hooked on the bait, Browning logged into his bank account, and the scammer tried to blackout his computer screen while she created a Transferwise account using the personal details Browning had provided.
At the 9:44 mark of his video posted in August 2019 , we can see that the scammer, who has access to his computer, attempted to transfer £7,999 to a bank account owned by a Singapore company, HLR Solutions Pte Ltd.
Browning believes that the company is complicit in the scam.
No money was lost that day because the details provided to the scammer were made up, and the scammer gave up after she could not process the transfer.
Live company and still operating
A search on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) official website shows that HLR Solutions Pte Ltd was incorporated on December 23, 2016, with 100,000 shares capital, and is categorized under information technology consultancy (except cybersecurity).
The info also showed that an Indian national, Boya Lavanya is listed as the director of HLR Solutions Pte Ltd.
The company is located at United Square, Thomson Road, which is a virtual office and does not have a physical office listed anywhere.
Despite claiming to be a “leading service provider for servers and network devices wise hardware and software support,” no information about its consultancy service can be found online. HLR Solutions Pte Ltd’s website is not operating, and no posts have been made on their Facebook page.
The company also opened a company in Hyderabad, Telangana, India, in 2019, which is where the scamming company Acuta Technologies exposed by Jim Browning in the video, originated from.
Online data shows it is run by the same owner, Lavanya Boya, with another director named Harish Kumar Reddy Yallannagari.
Repeat attempts by The Online Citizen (TOC) in contacting the company at its email address were unable to get a response.
HLR Solutions Pte Ltd claims that they offer software consultancy, but how can customers find them without their website? Even if they do, how can they trust a company that operates via a virtual office to do business?
ACRA records show that it filed its annual return on 24 August 2022 which suggests that it is still alive and operating.
Furthermore, it appears that they are still actively recruiting employees. They recently posted two job ads on Jobstreet, hiring a senior wintel engineer and network/ infrastructure architect and engineer, although it is unclear whom they will hire.
Another job ad was posted on LinkedIn. The company is hiring a “senior system analyst” who has “any degree with 3 to 6 years of experience in the relevant field,” and “excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, especially in English, Hindi, and Telugu.”
However, the job scope in the description had nothing to do with tech services. The analyst is to “lead and develop team leaders or travel consultants in delivering travel agency operational services at agreed service levels consistent with company standards while optimizing performance.”
A search on LinkedIn showed that a “network engineer” named Rambabu Valishetti has been working for the company since November 2018, and he comes from the same university, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, as Mahesh Bandi, who is the Managing Director at Acuta technologies, the company that is responsible for the scam in Browning’s video.
Despite Browning’s allegations, HLR Solutions Pte Ltd is seemingly operating without any investigations by the Singapore authorities. TOC had earlier written to the Singapore Police Force regarding the company’s conduct and whether any police investigation had been carried out, but no response has been received so far.
When contacted, a UOB spokesperson said, “UOB has zero tolerance for scams.”
It is concerning that a company accused of being involved in a scam is still operating, actively recruiting staff, and apparently not being investigated by the authorities. This is especially so since India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Singapore’s PayNow were linked on Tuesday, allowing faster and more cost-efficient cross-border remittances between the two countries.