Bengaluru: Two Bengaluru-based startups in the real estate sector are in the midst of an ugly spat, accusing each other of data theft and planting employees to leak confidential information.
Both firms, NoBroker and MyGate, deal with residential and society management while also providing security services. NoBroker, which initially began as a digital house hunting platform, expanded its services to community management under its new brand name NoBrokerhood, bringing itself in direct competition with MyGate.
MyGate has over 9,000 housing societies registered with it, while NoBrokerhood claims to have added nearly 3,000 such communities in just the last six months.
Both have accused each other of not only stealing client data but also offering bribe to employees to extract “internal confidential information”.
Incidentally, the US-based Tiger Global Management is a common investor in both companies.
Founded in 2014 by Amit Kumar Aggarwal, Saurabh Garg and Akhil Gupta, NoBroker is backed by General Atlantic and Beenext. MyGate was founded in 2016 by Vijay Arishetty, a former IAF pilot and Shaurya Chakra recipient, along with Abhishek Kumar, Shreyans Daga and Vivaik Bharadwaj. Their investors include Tencent, Prime Venture Partners and J.S. capital Management.
We filed case first: MyGate
Officials at MyGate told ThePrint that they were the first to register a case of data theft against NoBroker on 19 June, adding that it was done after the company sent a legal notice to NoBroker seeking reasons behind an alleged data breach and also demanding monetary compensation for the loss.
The company is claiming that it first noticed in March this year that some of its crucial data was missing. It added that it began receiving complaints from clients who said they were getting calls from NoBroker with confidential information that would be only available with MyGate.
The calls, the company alleges, were to not just gather information about MyGate but also asking clients to shift to NoBroker.
“By May, the frequency of complaints from our clients increased when they told us that NoBroker has been calling them with critical information of their names, numbers and role in the management committee, MyGate pricing, and when our licences were going to expire, etc,” Abhisheik Kumar, co-founder, MyGate, told ThePrint.
Kumar also said many clients reached out to MyGate seeking explanations as to how NoBroker had details of their contacts as well as internal information of the company.
MyGate said its clients shared WhatsApp screenshots with names and numbers of NoBroker employees who had called them to get information.
“Several of our employees also told us that they were offered cash rewards if they shared confidential information like leads in the city, customer contacts,” Kumar alleged.
To understand how its information was being leaked, he said, MyGate launched an internal probe by plugging names of its employees instead of real customers.
“We soon realised that those employees started getting calls from NoBroker just like our real customers would. It led us to understand that our customer database was getting compromised,” Kumar said.
A legal notice was sent on 12 June alleging data compromise while citing examples of how many times they were under threat of losing data, Kumar said. An FIR followed on 19 June.
The legal notice, seen by ThePrint, detailed how officials from NoBroker would call employees of MyGate and try to extract information about the company, naming the officials and listing the numbers they called from. It also claimed that the company is in possession of audio recording of several of these “illegal conversations”.
MyGate’s legal notice also claimed that a member from NoBroker’s human resources team even offered to bribe an employee to obtain confidential data.
Citing another example, the notice said someone from NoBroker called a MyGate client residing in one of Bengaluru’s prominent residential properties. When the client asked where did the employee get his number from, the response he got was that it was from “MyGate database”.
This explained NoBroker’s “involvement in illegally accessing/stealing our database”, said MyGate.
Allegations baseless, MyGate threatened by our rise: NoBroker
Saurabh Garg, co-founder and Chief Business Officer at NoBroker, said the allegations made by MyGate were “completely baseless”. Speaking to ThePrint, he alleged that it was MyGate that made multiple attempts to steal their data.
“We work within a legal framework and have not received their legal notice. We think that we have done nothing even though we are competitors,” Garg said.
NoBroker filed a counter-FIR on 29 June claiming data breach by MyGate.
Garg claimed that his firm too launched an internal probe with a dummy society list, which had the names and numbers of its employees.
“Whenever NoBroker or MyGate wants to launch a product in a society, we need to speak to the management of the society,” Garg said. “We started getting calls from NoBroker asking for us to be replaced with MyGate. These numbers were of our employees. How did they get access to it?”
He added: “How could names of people who are mentioned in this dummy database get out unless they breached into our system?”
NoBroker claimed that its system was either hacked or compromised by an employee who may have been planted.
The co-founder also claimed that MyGate was feeling threatened as NoBrokerhood had acquired another company, Society Connect, helping it to expand its business from 1,000 societies in December to 3,000 as of date.
Bengaluru police’s cybercrime officers in the know of the FIRs said they are in the process of verifying all facts, and that an investigation is under way.
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