FIA raided its office earlier in the week
The FIA has filed an FIR against Digitonics, a software house operating in Karachi, for forgery and cheating.
The FIR, filed on behalf of the State at the Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, accuses the company of forgery, money laundering, cheating, and a number of other crimes.
It is registered under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016:
as well as the Pakistan Penal Code:
and sections 3 and 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
The FIR says the crimes were committed between 2015 and 2021.
The inquiry has been registered based on a source report on international scammers operating in Pakistan that the FIA received from the Islamabad Cyber Crime Wing.
The report identified scams operating throughout the country, including harassment, fraudulent activities, identity impersonation, cheating, phishing, and extortion.
“It revealed the scammers have different websites offering various services which include designs, web developing etc. These websites are reported to blackmail and extort money from their customers after gaining their personal information by impersonating themselves as government officials of the US, UK, and UAE,” it read.
The scammers directed customers to file trademarks and deposit foreign exchange to register the trademarks, according to the FIR, which noted that the company charged a minimum of $100 to initiate the process.
The scammers also impersonate government officials and warn customers to get their trademarks registered or else they will face a lawsuit and have their company shut down, it said.
It also accused the company of forcefully shutting down customers’ websites and then charging hefty amounts for their restoration. “The impact of these scams in not only contributing to increase the crime rate but will damage the reputation of Pakistan internationally.”
It implicated the owners of Digitonics Labs Pvt Ltd, which is located in the Business Avenue building on Sharae Faisal. The software house was raided earlier this week.
Owner Junaid Mansoor, CEO Burhan Mirza, business unit head Umair Siddique, and others have been implicated.
The action against the software house was initiated after investigation agencies from foreign countries filed a complaint to the Pakistan government that the company’s websites were blackmailing and looting their citizens, said an FIA source, requesting anonymity. He didn’t, however, reveal the names of the countries.
In the FIR, the FIA said that it found at least eight suspicious websites after examining digital evidence found from the software house’s office. These include designeminent.com, logocottage.co.uk, videocottage.co.uk, websitecottage.co.uk, videoproficient.com, octalogo.com, designproficient.com, perfecent.com.
The websites, according to their contact us pages, are either based in the US or UK.
A quick look at the websites reveals that logocottage.co.uk and websitecottage.co.uk had the same address: Digital World Centre, 1 Lowry Plaza, The Quays, Salford, Manchester.
Two other websites perfecent.com and octalogo.com, according to their contact us pages, also showed similar addresses: 999 Riverview Dr, Totowa, NJ 07512.
But, the FIA said, it found that websites were being run from the software house’s office in Karachi.
An employee of the Digitionics told SAMAA Digital that there are at least 16 units inside the company and nobody knows what the other unit is doing. He said he knows the company makes mobile phone applications, software, logos, and animations.
The employee confirmed that the software house’s call centre agents used to call international clients impersonating UK/US nationals, and offer services to them.
“Calls are made from Karachi,” he added. “For example, a guy Saleem from Karachi would call an international client and say that he is Charlie Davidson from New York and he works at a US-based company.” Nobody will give the software house any work, if the agents tell them that they are sitting in Karachi, he added.
The FIA also raided Mirza’s house in DHA Phase VIII and took into custody his electronic items: two laptops and one iPhone. They were examined on the spot and suspicious materials were found.
The team then visited the software house’s office and examined the server room, systems and data. Incriminating material like credit card information of international clients, including security codes and forged certificates from the US Patent and Trademark Office has been seized.
During the raid, the FIA team sealed the entry and exit points of the building during the raid and they were present at the office for 12 hours.
The team interrogated the staffers and recorded the statements of eight people.