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REVEALED: How call centre scamsters stole Rs 500 crore

Last updated on: October 21, 2016 12:47 IST

From June 1 to October 4, the call centre scam mastermind collected Rs 12 crore from just one call centre.
Dyanesh Chavan reports from Mumbai.

Scamsters in the recently busted multi-crore rupee call centre racket were using well-known people search Web sites, which provide a person's name and addresses, to gauge a potential victim's ability to pay as part of their illegal operations, the police have revealed.

An Internet-based call were made to many phone numbers simultaneously, called 'blasting' in technical terms, and the potential victims were made to listen to it which allegedly used to threaten them, they said.

"Some of the victims got frightened with this and called back. When the call was returned, the call centre executives, through the phone number of the caller, surfed through the Web sites (having information about people's names, addresses and other details) in real time to understand the paying ability of the person at the other end," a police officer said.

Those having a higher ability to pay were prioritised over others and the (call centre) agents engaged with them in deeper conversations which led to negotiating a sum the victim had to pay, the officer said.

"During investigations it was revealed that the scam's alleged mastermind, Sagar Thakkar, and his associates used to blast the VOIP calls from Ahmedabad," the official said.

These calls were made with Direct Inward Dialling by which at a time 10 US citizens could get calls with the help of a software, he said.

The call was spoofed and contact numbers similar to those in the United States were displayed on the cell phones, by which the American citizens were made to believe that it was a call from the Internal Revenue Service, the US income tax department.

The frightened US nationals would reply on the numbers to prevent their arrest and were then engaged in negotiation.

The 'dialler' asked the victim if s/he wanted to resolve the issue. If s/he agreed, then the call was transferred to his senior -- the 'closer.'

Later, the 'closer' negotiated with the citizen and insisted her/him, to keep her/his mobile phone in speaker mode and go to the nearest reputed supermarket chain.

"At the supermarket, the victim was instructed by the 'closer' to purchase 'gift cards' ; and tell their 16 digit number to him. The 'closer' would then pass this 16 digit number to Thakkar.

Thakkar then called his vendors in the US and asked to deposit the gift cards worth thousands of dollars.

He would then allegedly receive the money through hawala in Mumbai and Ahmedabad, the police officer said.

With this scam, Thakkar allegedly collected hundreds of crores of rupees, he said.

The police had raided the Universal Outsourcing Services in Mira Road in the neighbouring Thane district among six other call centres on the midnight of October 4-5 and obtained the data of thousands of US citizens who were cheated.

From June 1 to October 4 this year, Thakkar allegedly collected $1,800,000 (Rs 12 crore/Rs 120 million) from just one call centre, the police officer said.

The investigators on Thursday, October 20, told a court in Thane that they have identified transactions worth Rs 25 crore to Rs 30 crore (Rs 250 million to Rs 300 million) in the call centre scam till now and that it will take a long time for them to arrive at the actual figure given the magnitude of the scandal.

Several teams were interrogating the 71 accused arrested so far in connection with the scam, which came to light when the police raided the call centres in Mira Road and other areas earlier this month.

Dnyanesh Chavan
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