Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The Mumbai police last week detained and questioned more than 750 bogus call centre workers accused of stealing millions of dollars from American citizens by posing as United States tax officials.
Police said that Sagar Thakkar aka Shaggy and his aide Tapash are the mastermind behind this multi-crore heist.
This is how the 23-year old boy boy pulled off the Rs 500 crore heist
Mode of operation
The call centre employees would telephone Americans and pretend to be officials from the Internal Revenue Service, the US government body responsible for collecting taxes.
They would tell the person at the end of the phone that they had defaulted on their tax payments and owed money.
The employees were fully trained in US accent and were given SOP and call sheet, based on which they used to make calls to the 'tax defaulters'.
They used to make at least 100 calls per day of which 10-15 calls would materialise and of these 3-4 people would make payment under threat by the conmen.
After duping the victims into revealing their bank details they would then withdraw money from their accounts.
Usage of high-tech devices
High-tech devices like 'magic jacks' were used by callers of Mira Road call centres.
Magic Jack is a device that plugs into a USB port on the user's computer and has a standard RJ-11 phone jack into which any standard phone can be plugged.
This allows the user to make unlimited phone calls to the US and Canada.
Police are also looking forward to crack DID (direct inward dialling) number of the devices used by racketeers to find out more about their modus operandi.
DID is used as a way to re-use a limited number of physical phone lines to handle calls to different published numbers.
How much money would they siphon off per day
The daily turnover of these call centres is said to be to the tune of nearly Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.50 crore.
How much reward/incentives the call centre workers would get
Though salary of the employees was in range of Rs 10,000-40,000 per month, some of them earned up to Rs 1 lakh per month.
A few employees earned huge incentives as "best performers" from the racketeers.
The "best performing" staffers were given reward of up to Rs one lakh by the operators of the racket for making US nationals cough up money.
On several occasions, upon seeing one employee getting big money, others also followed the suit and won reward.
How was the racket busted
The racket was exposed after city police raided three call centres, which were run illegally at the premises of Hari Om IT Park, Universal Outsourcing Services and Oswal House in Mira Road locality in Thane district, on the night of October 4.
Details so far
In the latest update, a team of US Federal Bureau of Investigation reached in Thane today in connection with probe.
Earlier, police have seized literatures, 851 hard discs, different high end servers, DVR, laptops, mobile handsets and other electronic gadgets, valued at around Rs 1 crore.
Among the 70 arrested, the key persons were identified as director Haider Mansuri (24), business manager Shain alias Hamza Balesar (35), manager Kabir Gupta (26), Arjun Vasudev (24), Abdulla Zariwalla (22), manager Johnson Dantosa (24), Govind Thakur (28) and Ankit Gupta (19).
Besides arresting 70 persons, Kashimira police booked another 630 people under IPC sections 384 (extortion), 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating) and under relevant sections of the IT Act and Indian Telegraph Act.
According to police, among over 12 persons who are absconding are two directors of Universal Outsourcing Services, namely Tapan Gupta and Arjun Vasudeo.
The multi-million dollar call center racket allegedly claimed the life of an elderly American woman, who was threatened after refusing to meet the demands of the call centre employees posing as US revenue officials.
According to Thane Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, who is credited with exposing the racket, the probe team hit upon the vital information when it was scanning the seized call record hard disks.
The unidentified American national is said to have died after allegedly suffering a stroke following a threatening call by an employee, Singh told a section of media here yesterday without elaborating further.
The incident was revealed from a call record wherein the son of the woman is heard abusing the caller for the death of his mother.
The probe team is trying to locate the call (its place and time) and fix the employee in question after which the police is likely to slap additional charges under section 304 of the IPC on the accused.
The crime branch officials have so far raided four call centres.
While police could not nab the owners and employees as the call centres were found deserted, around 250 computers were seized out of which 100 had no hard disks.
A police team has also gone to Gujarat to nab the kingpin of the racket.
Police have also raided some call centres in Gujarat.
There was a link between the four call centres at Mira Road here which police raided on October 4 and some centres in Gujarat, said Assistant Commissioner of Police Mukund Hatote.