A 37-year-old Indian man has been sentenced to 10 months in jail in Singapore for his role in a scam that used voicemails to gain access to the WhatsApp accounts of the victims to cheat individuals on their contact list.
Arivalagan Muthusamy was sentenced on Monday after he pleaded guilty to three charges under the Computer Misuse Act.
Arivalagan gained access to multiple StarHub voicemail mailboxes that were used to take over WhatsApp accounts.
Some of these accounts were then used in cheating scams that saw three victims transfer SGD 83,750 (Rs 48,32,349) to a syndicate, reported The Straits Times.
Arivalagan’s alleged accomplice – Hoang Trung Khang – has been charged in court, and proceedings against the 28-year-old Vietnamese national are ongoing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor R Arvindren said in court documents that Arivalagan and Hoang started working for a syndicate involved in cheating scams last year and targeted StarHub mobile users registered with a voicemail feature.
The voicemail mailbox could be accessed remotely by keying in the mobile number and PIN.
Arivalagan and Hoang called mobile numbers to test if the call gets diverted to voicemail when it goes unanswered.
Arivalagan then called StarHub’s service hotline and keyed in the targeted victim’s mobile number and the default PIN, which is available publicly.
After getting a message containing a one-time password, it was used to illegally take over WhatsApp accounts of the victim by registering a new account on another mobile device.
It was not clear in court documents how the one-time password messages were generated.
“The accused knew that the purpose of taking over WhatsApp accounts of victims is to allow the syndicate to cheat individuals in the contact list of the victims’ WhatsApp accounts by asking them to invest in gold or cryptocurrencies,” Arvindren said.
Between October and November 26 last year, Arivalagan accessed 40 WhatsApp accounts belonging to gain control of the accounts. He was paid SGD 250 (Rs 14,424) for each compromised account.