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Call centre scam hit UK, Australia too

The police’s interrogation of suspects in the Thane ‘call centre’ scam has revealed that the scammers targetted gullible taxpayers not only in the US but in the UK and Australia as well, by working round the clock in shifts.

mumbai Updated: Oct 08, 2016 00:33 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
call centre

The police’s interrogation of suspects in the Thane ‘call centre’ scam has revealed that the scammers targetted gullible taxpayers not only in the US but in the UK and Australia as well, by working round the clock in shifts.

On Tuesday night, the police raided several bogus call centres, where employees allegedly posed as US Internal Revenue Service officials to con people over the phone. They rounded up about 700 employees and arrested 72 of them.

A senior official in the Thane crime branch said, “We have learnt that the call centres functioned 24x7. Separate sets of trained callers would dupe people in the UK and Australia using similar methods. We will trace these employees and arrest them soon.”

The official said that the shift for the Australia calls would start at 7am, and for the UK at 11.30 am. While those calling Australian citizens would pose as officials from the Australian Taxation Office, those calling the UK would masquerade as officials from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

He said the scripts varied according to the target country and that the callers were trained by experts to adopt the appropriate accent. A source said the police have already retrieved some conversations from the 820 hard disks seized in the raid.

The police have also learnt that the employees had set up several WhatsApp groups to post their daily ‘traps’. “Every member would disclose his or her traps and earnings from them. The highest earner would get a bonus of between Rs2,000 to Rs5,000,” the official said. The administrators of these chat groups were the promoters of the call centres or managers appointed by them, he added. “We have also found Excel sheets in which the salaries and bonuses to the employees were recorded. These will be used as evidence,” said the official.

Meanwhile, Thane police commissioner Paramveer Singh hinted at more arrests, saying, “I can say that the syndicate is much wider than what we thought earlier. A lot more is going to be unraveled soon,” he added.

Sources meanwhile, said that the police had initially planned to conduct the raid last Friday. However, the information got leaked and the call centres preferred to shut shop on that day. They did not open till Monday. However, following specific information on Tuesday, the police made a swoop.

WIDER RACKET Thane crime branch officials say scammers worked round the clock in shifts to con gullible taxpayers in disparate time zones