Wednesday, October 28, 2020
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Thane Police to seek details of call centre scam in US

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The conviction of 21 Indian-origin persons by a US court in a multimillion-dollar India-based call centre scam is expected to help investigators of a similar racket in the city build a watertight case against the accused, Thane Police officials said.

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Thane Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said, “They (American investigators) have quoted from our case (in the US court). We will seek details (from the FBI). DCP Crime (Abishek Trimukhi) will coordinate.”

He said, “We will see what kind of evidence was presented (in the US court) and if we can use it in our case.”

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A team of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had visited Thane in 2016 and met police officials after the scam came to light.

ACP (Crime) Mukund Hatote, who is leading the prosecution case in a court, said, “The Thane Police should obtain the entire (US) judgement and evidence presented there to make its own case strong and ensure conviction of the accused.”

In October 2016, the Thane Police had busted a multi-crore fake call centre scam wherein US-based taxpayers were allegedly conned by Indian telecallers.

The racket, which operated in the city since 2013 through half-a-dozen call centres in Thane, targeted at least 15,000 US-based tax payers. One Sagar Thakkar alias ‘Shaggy’ was identified as the alleged mastermind of the racket, according to the police.

The police had then put the scam amount at USD 300 million and arrested nearly 300 people spread over several months in connection with the scam. Thakkar (24) was arrested in Mumbai in May 2017.

Subsequently, Thane Police teams raided five call centres in Ahmedabad which were part of the racket.

“Shaggy was also named as an accused in the US case (he was however not among the convicts),” the police commissioner said.

The prison sentences for the 21 people convicted in the US this week ranged from four to 20 years.

According to US officials, the racket defrauded thousands of US residents of hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to various admissions made in connection with the guilty pleas, between 2012 and 2016, the defendants and their conspirators perpetrated a complex fraud and money laundering scheme.

As part of the scam, individuals from call centres located in Ahmedabad impersonated officials from the Internal Revenue Service or US Citizenship and Immigration Services in a ruse designed to defraud victims located throughout America.

Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, call centre operators targeted people in the US who were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay the alleged money owed to the government.

Victims, who agreed to pay the scammers, were instructed how to make a payment, including by purchasing stored value cards or wiring money.

A similar modus operandi was used in the Thane call centre racket, officials said.

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