The ‘mastermind’ suspected of being behind a prolific phone scam conning Britons out of their hard-earned cash has gone into hiding after being slammed by his family, Mail Online can reveal.
MailOnline has been inside the crumbling building and offices of Madina Tower in the Pakistani Punjab capital where the country’s anti-corruption officials have raided the call centres said to have been used by Sarfraz.
The alleged fraudster, accused of fleecing unsuspecting Britons in a call centre scam, was involved in a fist fight with a cousin and business partner after the focus fell on Sarfraz.
The flash businessman, who is in his twenties and drives around Lahore in a jeep with his attractive girlfriend by his side, is accused of a mobile phone scam by pretending to be from 02.
Ahmad Sarfraz, the ‘mastermind’ suspected of being behind a prolific phone scam conning Britons out of their hard-earned cash has gone into hiding
The Madina Towers building where the scam call centre is allegedly based, which was completely shut off after being contacted by the BBC
MailOnline has been inside the crumbling building and offices of Sarfraz’s former empire
Workers in his scam call centre allegedly made calls to UK phone numbers and posed as customer service staff from the mobile phone provider
Workers in his scam call centre allegedly made calls to UK phone numbers and posed as customer service staff from the mobile phone provider.
Who is Ahmad Sarfraz?
Ahmad Sarfraz is the boss at the centre of one of Pakistan’s most prolific fraud factories targeting British households, according to the BBC.
Workers in his scam call centre allegedly make calls to UK phone numbers and pose as customer service staff from mobile phone provider O2.
Scammers do this to gain access to customers’ accounts so they can order mobile phones worth thousands of pounds which they sell on.
On social media, the unscrupulous young criminal shares pictures of his lavish lifestyle, funded with the money stolen from Britons via the O2 scam.
The scammers gained access to customers’ accounts so they could order mobile phones worth thousands of pounds and then sell on.
The allegations against Sarfraz led to a fist fight between him and a cousin who was arrested and then freed without charge.
The cousin, Qasim Naseer, was a business partner and was angered at his detention and lunged at Sarfraz accusing him of destroying their business.
Their office at Number 508 had been raided by Pakistan’s Federal Investigations Agency officers and they broke the main gate to the offices after staff got scared and refused to allow them in.
The officers searched the offices and left sealing the doors barring any re-entry by staff.
When Mr Naseer was released, he found the offices closed and staff nowhere to be seen and was involved in a violent confrontation with the suspected fraudster.
A source told Mail Online: ‘After a few days when Qasim came back from FIA custody, people inside the other offices of the plaza saw a very serious physical fight between Qasim and Ahmad.
‘Qasim was heard shouting and blaming Ahmad of destroying and defaming the business by indulging in frauds.
MailOnline went inside the building and photographed a wooden door which has a security bar over it that has been locked
A poster was found hung up on the wall on one of the floors in the building
The tower also houses at the ground floor shops selling curtains cloth and accessories
The smashed front door of the office which police broke in their raid
The windows into Sarfraz’s former office which have been sealed off
Sarfraz (pictured) has now gone into hiding after being confronted
Money Mail raised the alarm over the scam in April, but a new investigation run by Scam Interceptors has lifted the lid on the unscrupulous people they say are behind the con
‘The FIA officers, who are Government police officers working against white-collar crime, had locked up the offices and sealed them off.’
How the scam works
Ahmad Sarfraz allegedly enters phone numbers into O2’s website, which then instantly confirms whether the number is linked to an O2 account.
Customers that do belong to an O2 account are passed on to a call handler, posing as O2 staff, calling to offer a fake one-off promotional deal
It sounds like a great deal, but there’s a catch — in order to unlock the offer, you have to verify your account.
The call handler says he will generate a one-time passcode that will be sent to the victim’s phone, which they must read out to confirm their identity.
But this code isn’t linked to any deal. Instead, it will give scammers access to their target’s account.
Sarfraz allegedly enters the target’s email address into the log-in on O2’s website and clicks ‘Forgotten your sign-in details’.
This automatically sends a six-digit passcode to the account holder’s mobile phone. Once they’ve handed over this code, the scammers can log into their account.
Within seconds, Sarfraz has changed the password and email address linked to the account. He then orders expensive mobile phones, tablets and smart watches to arrive at the victim’s home, which they will be billed for, the BBC says.
Madina Tower houses many scrupulous businesses involved in work like providing legal advice and arranging visas for students and 250 shops and clothing outlets. It also has residential floors.
The tower is situated at a congested business place area of Lahore at Ferozpur Road and owned by Haji Liaqat who is very close to the leadership of Nawaz Sharif’s political party Muslim League (N).
The tower also houses at the ground floor shops selling curtains cloth and accessories.
On the first floor are furniture shops and above in the six-floor building are offices and family flats.
Other legitimate businesses in Madina Tower admired Sarfraz’s operations, but were unaware of the frauds suspected of taking place.
‘Before this raid, almost all the other occupants of the fifth floor of the tower were really very impressed by Sarfraz and his team.
‘This was because all of them looked very happy and good money earners’ the building source said.
But the management of the building, which stands at 1200ft high, told MailOnline that no one other than Sarfraz’s dozen or so staffers could enter their call centre.
But it is unlikely that Sarfraz will be returning there as the management of the tower has been asked to return the security payment provided by his business.
The source added: ‘Sarfraz was living a very luxurious life and he wore very expensive clothes, a rare watch, had an expensive phone and a smart 4×4 car.
‘He was not a regular visitor to his office. Once or twice in a week he used to come to the office and now we think he may have also worked from his home or somewhere else.’
More doors are pictured with metal security bars across them in the building
The tower is situated at a congested business place area of Lahore at Ferozpur Road and owned by Haji Liaqat
An advertisement poster for a job is plastered on one of the walls of the building
Sarfraz disappeared after the BBC’s fraud-busting show Scam Interceptors tracked him down – and confronted him over the phone. He denied the allegations
It is thought the suspected conman may have fled to Dubai and gone into hiding
BBC investigators watched remotely as Sarfraz reportedly tried to cover his tracks by changing the name and photo of his fake O2 online profile
Madina Tower is is situated at a congested business place area of Lahore, Pakistan, at Ferozpur Road
It is thought the suspected conman may have fled to Dubai and gone into hiding.
The moment scammers are confronted
BBC’s Rav Wilding: ‘Hello is that Ahmad? Ahmad why are you pretending to be from O2 and scamming people in the UK?
‘Why are you pretending to be from the big mobile phone companies when you’re nothing to do with them?’
Scammers: ‘I apologise’.
Rav: ‘What do you apologise for’
(No response, scammers hang up. Rav calls back on Ahmad’s personal phone rather than his online phone account.)
Rav: ‘Ahmad, this is Rav Wilding from the BBC.
‘Why are you changing the image on your profile picture, Ahmad?
‘Why are you trying to sign out, Ahmad? We know you have been breaking the law! Why are you pretending to be from mobile companies that are nothing to do with you?
‘Why are you scamming people out of money?’
Scammers: ‘We are not doing anything at all.’
Rav: ‘That’s wrong. You are. We think you’re scamming people in the UK, pretending to be from O2.
‘Why do you think this is funny? People are losing money, do you not care?’
Scammers: ‘Nobody is doing anything at all.’
Rav: ‘That’s not the case. You’re making thousands of phone calls a day. You’re pretending to be from a mobile phone company. You’re pretending to offer discounts that don’t exist.
Scammers: ‘You have got a wrong number’.
Rav: ‘This is not a wrong number. This is the right number. You are lying and you are scamming people and you’ve been rumbled, you’ve been caught.’
Sarfraz disappeared after the BBC’s fraud-busting show Scam Interceptors tracked him down – and confronted him over the phone. He denied the allegations.
Footage showed BBC investigators telling him: ‘Why are you pretending to be from O2 and scamming people from the UK?
‘Why are you pretending to be from the big mobile phone companies when you’re nothing to do with them?
‘You are lying and you are scamming people and you have been rumbled’.
Investigators watched remotely as scammers allegedly tried to cover their tracks by changing the name and photo of the fake O2 online profile.
But the BBC team did not back down, with presenter Rav Wilding saying: ‘Why are you trying to sign out, Ahmad? We know you have been breaking the law. Why are you scamming people out of money?’
A distorted voice on the other side of the line told Wilding he’d got the ‘wrong number,’ but Sarfraz was told ‘this is not the wrong number, this is the right number’.
Through a colleague who speaks Punjabi, investigators said they then overheard a panicked Sarfraz telling someone in the background: ‘I don’t understand how they got my number though’.
Whilst Sarfraz denied the BBC’s allegations, the broadcaster said it was clear their call had shaken him and his business.
The busy and active call centre was completely shut off following the confrontation and the business is believed to have stopped trading – for the time being at least.
Money Mail had raised the alarm over the scam in April, but a new investigation by Scam Interceptors lifted the lid on the unscrupulous people they say are behind the con.
With the help of hacker Jim Browning, who works undercover to use his technology skills, Scam Interceptors was able to break into Sarfraz’s operations and listen to the Lahore centre’s phone calls, following their movements for nine weeks.
Its findings provide an extraordinary insight into just how these alleged criminals operate.
Official fraud data, sent to the Government by industry body UK Finance, reveals that 17 pc of all scams begin with a phone call or text — and the losses are enormous.