A west Delhi-based cyber firm has been uncovered as a “spy-for-hire” company that helped its clients spy on politicians, investors, and client business rivals across the world.
According to a report from Reuters, the little-known Indian company called BellTroX InfoTech Services spied on 10,000 email accounts over seven years.
It targeted lawyers in France, judges in South Africa, politicians in Mexico, gamblers in the Bahamas, and several government officials in Europe, according to Citizen Lab researchers who have been trailing them for over two years and three former employees. The hit list also includes private equity giant KKR and short-seller Muddy Waters from the US.
BellTroX sent over thousands of malicious emails to targeted people. The emails impersonated Facebook login requests, messages from colleagues or relatives, and notifications to unsubscribe from adult websites, according to data gathered by Reuters.
Two organizations, namely Free Press and Fight for the Future, that have been keen supporters of net neutrality in the US, were also targeted by BellTrox. The spying campaign ran back in 2017, which compromised several employees of both organizations; however, it was never tied to BellTroX until now.
BellTroX owner denies allegations
In a telephonic conversation with Reuters, the owner of BellTroX, Sumit Gupta, has denied the allegations as well as denied taking part in any wrongdoing. According to Gupta, he only downloaded emails from accounts whose login credentials were provided by clients.
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“I was just helping them with technical support.”
Gupta denied meeting the Reuters reporter in his office, which is essentially a small room just above a closed tea shop in a west Delhi complex.
Reuters writes that “aspects of BellTroX’s” are under investigation by US law enforcement; however, there is no official statement. Meanwhile, Delhi police and the Indian ministry have not commented on the matter until now.
Interestingly, BellTroX owner was declared a fugitive in the US in 2017, when two US private investigators admitted paying him money to hack accounts of marketing executives.