Call centre running from luxury hotel in Gurugram busted, 7 arrested
To keep its business running even during lockdown, a call center company ran its operations illegally from 35 rooms it had booked in the luxurious Radisson Hotel in Gurugram’s Udyog Vihar.
Police said the promoters of the company, Saburi TLC World Wide service Pvt Ltd , threatened their employees to work from the hotel and violated social distancing norms in effect in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The hotel management said it was not aware of the operation.
Four employees of the business process outsourcing (BPO) firm and its director, and the hotel’s director of rooms and general manager were arrested late on Friday night. Several others booked after the police raided the hotel. The firm has an office in Spaze IT building at Sohna Road, but shut it down after the lockdown was announced.
WATCH | Call centre running from Gurugram hotel busted amid lockdown, 7 arrested
Previously, several fake call centers were busted for cheating foreign nationals in the garb of providing technical support. Police said the firm in the present case too used to sell tech support and add-on services to lure victims.
Police said the company employees moved in to the hotel on March 22 and had booked the rooms for a month.
A cyber crime police team raided the hotel in the early hours of Saturday following a tip. At the time, over 20 employees were found working in the rooms. The company director could not provide any licence to run the call centre from the hotel, police said.
Police commissioner Muhammad Akil said that the hotel had not informed the district administration or the police regarding the operations.
“The employees of Saburi TLC World Wide service Pvt Ltd were moving in and out (of the hotel) and haven’t undergone any medical examination. More than 100 executives of the company were living in the hotel. The suspects had booked business class rooms for the top management and premium rooms for the executives,” he said.
Karan Goel, assistant commissioner of police (DLF), said, “We have retrieved a few emails where the company had written to the hotel to reserve the rooms and had mentioned that they will be working from there. The general manager replied that they won’t be able to provide a conference hall, but had provided LAN cables to the rooms for their workstations and laptops.”
Police seized four laptops, nine workstations and five mobile phones from the hotel rooms along with documents.
Goel said that the company did not have permission to operate out of the hotel and had not taken approval from the Department of Telecommunication (DOT) to shift their office.
“Each room had at least three employees making calls and had not maintained any social distancing. They were not even provided masks,” he said.
“The employees told us that they were forced to work for 12 hours a day and were threatened with pay cut if they didn’t. They had been promised incentives and were given ₹5,000 to work,” said Goel.
A case under section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 120 B (conspiracy), section 51 disaster management act, Section 66 of Information Technology Act and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code at Cyber police station.
Police said they will write to DOT to cancel the company’s licenses and will verifying all the documents provided by them.
Ankush Talwar, director of rooms, Radisson Hotel, said he was unaware that the rooms will be used to run a call centre. “Why would we allow anyone intentionally to conduct any illegal activity inside the hotel. We were monitoring their temperature every day and had not allowed them to move out. We were not aware of what was happening inside the room. The staff used to deliver their food at the door,” he said, shortly before his arrest.
Anuj Jain, owner of the company, said that they were unaware that it was illegal to operate without licence from the hotel.
Police identified the arrested company employees as its director Anuj Jain, Apurva Goswami, Siddharth Thakur, Naveen Kumar Sharma and Deepak Kumar Chaubey. Hotel’s general manager Namit Vij was also arrested.
Police has seized the digital video recorder (DVR) of the hotel to check the entries of the executives and how the systems were brought inside.
Goel said they are taking assistance of cyber experts and they are analysing the data and script of the seized laptops and computers. The police said that at least 30,000 users, based in the UK, US and a few other English-speaking countries, are suspected to have been targeted to by the technical support services.