Call centre busted in Moti Bagh, 32 arrested for duping Canadian citizens
The arrests were made on Friday after police raided a “fake call center” in DLF Industrial Area of Moti Nagar based on a tip. Five other persons, suspected to be the masterminds of the racket, are on the run, said police.Updated: Nov 18, 2019 00:38 IST
Thirty-two men were arrested in west Delhi for allegedly duping and threatening Canadians with arrest over non-existent violations on their social insurance number (SIN).
SIN is a unique number issued to individuals in Canada for administering government programmes.
The arrests were made on Friday after police raided a “fake call center” in DLF Industrial Area of Moti Nagar based on a tip. Five other persons, suspected to be the masterminds of the racket, are on the run, said police.
“When we raided the fake call centre, we found many people seated in front of computers and making phone calls to Canadian phone numbers. They were being supervised by two brothers,” said an investigator.
Among many pieces of evidence seized from the call centre were 55 computers and several pages of “script” used for reference while calling the Canadians. “The script helped the callers make threats and handle suspicious Canadians,” said the investigator.
The Delhi Police are yet to ascertain how many Canadians were cheated of how much money. Investigators, however, said that the amount duped from each victim ran into thousands of US dollars.
“A Canadian victim we have identified and contacted so far was cheated of $13,500 (over ₹9.5 lakh),” said Sameer Sharma, additional deputy commissioner of police (west district). The five owners of the call centre remain on the run, he added.
While this particular modus operandi was something unusual for the Delhi Police, the Canada police had already been investigating multiple such complaints, said ADCP Sharma. The police in Hamilton (a port city in Canada), on October 25 had tweeted to warn people of this fraud.
ADCP Sharma said that the call centre had been operating for at least four months. The callers would use Voice over IP (VoIP) calls to use computers connected to internet to dial Canadians.
While the VoIP calls helped them avoid detection by authorities, they were violating India’s telecom laws by having VoIP gateways in India.
The trick was to scare the Canadians by calling and lying to them that their social insurance number (SIN) had been used for violating certain laws, said ADCP Sameer. The first call would be an automated call about violations and an instruction to call back on a certain phone number. If someone called back, the people at the call centre in Moti Nagar would get into action.
“The Canadian would be told that he or she would be jailed for the violations. They would then be offered a one-time amnesty if they paid money,” said the officer. The payment would be accepted in the form of bitcoins (a form of digital currency) or gift cards.
The officer said that many such Canadians paid up without much fuss to avoid legal hassles. Others would approach the police in Canada, but the investigation would lead to nowhere since the frauds were committed through VoIP calls.
Police said they are probing how the call centre owners got access to the SIN details of the Canadian nationals. “Remember: No government agency will ever ask for payment in Bitcoin,” the tweet by the Hamilton Police had warned its people last month.