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FBI officer in Thane to get details of call centre scam

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

An officer of US security agency FBI today arrived in and gathered and shared details about the probe into a multi-crore call centre scam, whose victims were American citizens who lost millions of dollars.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officer senior officers of Police and exchanged information gathered by both the sides about the scam which was unearthed earlier this month.

"We will verify the information which the FBI has shared with us. It will help in our investigation. The FBI team also appreciated our efforts (in uncovering the scam)," Joint Commissioner of Police Ashutosh Dumbre told PTI.

The FBI officer will be in for a few more days and will question those arrested in connection with the scam, police sources said.

Police have issued a Look out circular (LOC) to nab Sagar Dharmesh Thakkar, the alleged mastermind of the scam, which operated out of nearly a dozen call centres where executives posed as US tax authorities and duped a large number of American citizens.

Crime Branch teams are also looking for Thakkar and authorities at the international borders, airports and sea ports have been alerted to thwart his attempt to leave the country, said Dumbre.

Police unearthed the scam, involving more than Rs 500 crore, after raiding seven call centres on Mira Road. The con job, which targeted US citizens and forced them to part with dollars, had been going on for a few months, he added.

The daily transactions of the seven call centres stood at around Rs 1.5 crore. After the raids, police shut down four more call centres in where the daily transaction was about Rs 50 lakh, said the Joint Commissioner of Police.

Police have so far arrested 71 people in connection with

the case.

Some of the call centres involved in the racket were run illegally from the premises of Hari Om IT Park, Universal Outsourcing Services and Oswal House on Mira Road.

The callers used to seek financial and bank details of US citizens and if the victims refused to disclose the information, they would even allegedly threaten them with dire consequences, including legal action and penalties.

The callers used to contact clients in the US and con them by speaking in an American accent and posing as officials of the US Internal Revenue Service, police had said.

According to the police, some of the call centre employees earned up to Rs one lakh per month as a "reward" by the racket operators for making the US nationals pay up.

High-tech devices such as 'magic jacks' were used by the callers to dupe the US citizens.

Police are also looking to crack the DID (direct inward dialling) number of the devices used by the 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.

After the raids at Thane, some call centres in Ahmedabad also came under the police scanner. Police Crime Branch is trying to ascertain if there are any links between the scam-tainted call centres and the Ahmedabad BPO outlets, said officials.

First Published: Fri, October 14 2016. 17:29 IST