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  Metros   Mumbai  26 Aug 2018  Police busts fake call centre

Police busts fake call centre

THE ASIAN AGE. | SURESH GOLANI
Published : Aug 26, 2018, 5:27 am IST
Updated : Aug 26, 2018, 5:27 am IST

7 tele-callers were arrested for posing as taxmen to dupe US citizens.

The fraudsters reportedly sourced contacts of US citizens from illegal data brokers and hackers.
 The fraudsters reportedly sourced contacts of US citizens from illegal data brokers and hackers.

Mumbai: Rekindling memories of one of the biggest international Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) fraud that had erupted from call centres in the Mira Road-Kashimira belt in 2016, the Thane (rural) police claim to have busted a similar cartel of tele-callers who operated their nefarious activities from a residential apartment in Bhayandar.  

Acting on a tip-off, a team led by Assistant superintendent of Police, Atul Kulkarni, swooped down on a fourth floor apartment in the Ideal Park area on Saturday and arrested seven people, who duped citizens in Unites States (US) by posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials. In a striking similarity to the 2016 scam, the accused would make calls to US-based taxpayers and trick them into transferring money by issuing threats of imposing heavy fines, imprisonment and even deportation if they failed to pay the government dues.  

The fraudsters reportedly sourced contacts of US citizens from illegal data brokers and hackers. The information included personal details like credit or debit card numbers, loan details and tax liability, especially of those citizens who had some pending issues with the authorities, thus making them more vulnerable to the con.

Mr Kulkarni said, “The fraudsters used a software to ensure that a US location showed up on their phones. Once the target fell prey, they would direct him or her to buy gift cards and immediately transfer the money, which was later used to buy bit-coins that were finally converted into Indian currency and deposited in multiple bank accounts.”  

He further added that, the accused would call various US citizens posing as IRS officers and scam US citizens into paying ‘pending taxes’. “They had all the details of the taxes paid by the targets, which we believe they bought from hackers. The accused went through language and accent training and had a written script that they referred to while calling their targets,” Mr Kulkarni added.

In some cases, the tele-callers even posed as representatives from anti-virus companies. “They would tell their targets that they have detected some virus programs in their computers and recommend their ‘anti virus’ software. Payments would be accepted in the form of iTunes gift cards, and the amount would be converted from dollars to bitcoins and then into Indian currency,” Mr Kulkarni said.

While the investigating team is still on, the arrested accused have been identified as Jubeir Abdul Qadir Shaikh (26), Savio Victor Gonsalves (42), Raju Billu Rathod (29), Harsh Anwar Kaazi (23), Siddarth Sanjay Pillai (22), Saurabh Krishnachandra Jha (29) and Siddhi Vinod Nair (25).

All the accused have been booked under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, Information and Technology Act 2008 and Indian Telegraph Act 1985. The Navghar police, which is investigating the case, have seized mobile phones and computers from the apartment.

Tags: internal revenue service, fraudsters, business process outsourcing