Fake call centre busted in Goregaon: Gang stole US citizens’ data, duped them of 1.5 crore

Police suspect the data of US citizens may have been leaked by some private bank
The accused bought the contact details of US citizens and then duped them of approximately ₹1.5 crore(REUTERS)
The accused bought the contact details of US citizens and then duped them of approximately ₹1.5 crore(REUTERS)
Updated on Jul 05, 2019 12:02 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Jayprakash Naidu, Mumbai

Five men, allegedly running a fake call centre in Goregaon (West), were arrested on Thursday for acquiring data of thousands of US citizens, posing as tax authorities and duping them of approximately 1.5 crore.

Police are on the lookout for two more accused from Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

Goregaon police said that in a major security breach, the accused managed to acquire the social security number (SSN) — equivalent of Aadhaar in India — and other personal details of US citizens.

The accused then posed as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials and United State Treasury (UST) personnel, told victims they have defaulted on their taxes and threatened them that the Social Security Administration will take action against them.

While the modus operandi is unclear, the fraudsters then made the victims purchase gift cards.

“They then asked them to scratch the gift card and send them the code on it. They used the code to withdraw money,” said an officer.

A team led by senior inspector Sanjeev Bhole and inspector Maheshkumar Thakur raided the call centre — being run from the second floor of a building in Motilal Nagar since the past 45 days — based on a tip-off on Thursday.

The arrested accused Yogesh Sharma, 25; Abhishek Salian, 31; Naim Khan, 31; Asif Lanjekar, 32; and Pradipkumar Ram, 29, have been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, Indian Telegraph Act and Information Technology Act, and remanded in five days’ police custody.

“We seized 15 hard disks; a server; a router; laptops; five mobiles and other equipment. Five persons have been arrested and at least two more are wanted,” said deputy commissioner of police, zone XI, Sangramsinh Nishandar.

Officers said Sharma and Salian ran the call centre, and of them got the data of US citizens from the wanted accused.

The other three, who had worked in international call centres and knew how to speak with an American accent, made the calls.

Police suspect the data of US citizens may have been leaked by some private bank, and one of the wanted accused was possibly a former bank employee.

Additional commissioner, north region, Dilip Sawant said they will investigate if US citizens are also involved in the case.

Police also said around 50% of the duped amount was split between the gang members, while the rest was paid to those supplying the data.

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Saturday, October 16, 2021