The Noida police Friday arrested 126 people from a fake call centre allegedly involved in extorting money from US citizens after threatening them with arrest for having discrepancies in their social security number.
In a late Thursday night raid at the call centre in Noida, Sector 63, the biggest so far by the district police, the sleuths arrested operators and callers, including women, besides seizing several computer systems and cash worth over Rs 2 million, a senior police official said.
Gautam Buddh Nagar Superintendent of Police Ajay Pal Sharma said a total of 126 people were arrested, 312 computer systems seized and cash worth over Rs 2 million recovered from the scene.
"The workers at the fake call centre would call up US citizens and intimidate them saying there were problems with their social security number, a nine-digit identification number issued to the US citizens, and tell them to pay penalty to get it fixed or face arrest," Sharma said.
He said the callers would ask for up to $3,500 and transfer it through target purchasing of "playstore cards" in the US which the call centre owners would get encashed with the help of their aides abroad.
"The call centre would make $50,000 every night on an average by duping gullible Americans," Sharma said, adding the money they have extorted runs into crores of US dollars.
The call centre owners have been operating the centre from different places in the National Capital Region for last three years, Sharma said, adding they would keep it shutting and restarting every now and then to avoid detection.
The call centre would function from 7 pm to 5 am, Sharma said.
"An initial probe has revealed that they had partners in the US, Dubai and China where these "playstore cards" would be encashed. The 126 arrested included three key persons who were running the centre here but the mastermind is someone else and we are probing the case to reach them," SSP Sharma said.
They also used Truecaller, a global mobile app, to find the names of the people they would call up and address them by their full names, saying they are from the Social Security Department, leaving little chance for the panic-stricken people to doubt the credentials of the callers, speaking in English with an American accent.
A case has been registered against the arrested persons at the Phase 3 police station under Indian Penal Code sections 308 (extortion), 420 (cheating) and under various relevant sections of the Information Technology Act.
Over the past few months, about a dozen fake call centres have been busted in Noida and scores of people arrested for duping foreigners, including Americans and Canadians, officials said.
This was the biggest raid by the Noida police so far, in which they arrested largest number of call centre employees duping the US nationals, though the Special Task Force had earlier arrested over 300 such people involved in running the racket to dupe US nationals.