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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Fake call centre busted in Gurugram,four arrested for duping US citizens millions of dollars

The police busted a fake call centre that had been operating out of an office in Sector 37 for the past five month.

gurugram Updated: Aug 09, 2019 08:13 IST
Leena Dhankhar
Leena Dhankhar
Hindustan Times,Gurugram
The police on Tuesday night busted a fake call centre that had been operating out of an office in Sector 37.
The police on Tuesday night busted a fake call centre that had been operating out of an office in Sector 37.(HT photo)

The police on Tuesday night busted a fake call centre that had been operating out of an office in Sector 37 for the past five months, and arrested four people for allegedly duping US citizens by posing as officials of law enforcement agencies threatening to cancel their social security numbers (SSN), if they did not pay “a fine”.

According to the police, the call centre was duping people of millions of dollars. The police said that at least 5,000 citizens, based in the US are suspected to have been targeted.

A case was registered on Wednesday at Cyber police station under sections 420 (cheating), 120 B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and sections 66 D and 75 of the IT Act, after which four telecallers were arrested.

The suspects were identified as Yogesh Bablani (34), Jay Jethani (27), Milan Sagar (32), all of Gujarat and Jitender Gill, of Punjab. The police said the suspects were produced before the district and sessions court on Wednesday. While three of them were sent to 14 day judicial custody, Gill was taken on a one-day police remand. The kingpin and their partners were yet to be arrested, the police said.

The police recovered 15 hard disks, the script meant to dupe US citizens, computers, one laptop, and iTunes and Google Play gift cards.

Deputy commissioner of police (HQ), Shashank Kumar Sawan, said they received a tip-off last week that a group in the city was running a fake call centre, and it took a few days to locate the place. “We had conducted an internal investigation and our teams visited the call centre on a few occasions, after we received a number of complaints from users in the USA over the last five months. We will get the recovered hard disks, scanned along with their systems to get an exact number of people targeted since the inception of this call centre,” he said.

The police said the confiscated hardware will be sent to a laboratory in Madhuban, Karnal, for forensic examination.

Explaining the operations, Karan Goel, assistant commissioner of police (DLF), said the owner of the call centre had hired young men, most of whom were from the northeastern states and Gujarat, and had completed their courses in computer applications. “Five months ago, this call centre was set up with 50 workstations. The telecallers underwent a week’s training to make calls to the US, and a script was shared with them. They had also set up a toll-free number, which was shared with the victims,” he said.

The executives were given US citizens’ data, and they used to make random calls informing them that their SSNs risked being cancelled as they are “offenders”, and needed to pay a fine to ensure no cancellation took place.

“The victims pleaded with them and asked them the process of paying the fine,” Goel said.

The police said the suspects had developed several fake websites, which would direct the victims to a toll-free number for assistance and get routed to their call centre.

“Payment was generally through virtual payment gateways, credit and debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards. The involvement of international Hawala (a method of transferring money without any money actually moving) transactions also cannot be ruled out,” Goel said.

The call centre used to earn nearly ₹4 lakh a day from and paid a minimum salary ₹35,000 to its 50 customer care executives, Goel said.

The police said the exact number of victims and the amount of money siphoned may be higher than anticipated. “We are also getting a forensic audit of the seized property,” said Goel.

First Published: Aug 08, 2019 09:50 IST

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