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Thane call centre scam: He made a fortune in just seven years

Jagdish Kanani,33, moved from being a small garment shop owner in Chennai to acquiring plush properties in the western suburbs and a fleet of high end cars, all in seven years

mumbai Updated: Oct 19, 2016 10:57 IST
Arvind Walmiki
Arvind Walmiki
Hindustan Times
Call centre scam,Thane call centre scam,Mira Road call centre

Jagdish Kanani,33, moved from being a small garment shop owner in Chennai to acquiring plush properties in the western suburbs and a fleet of high end cars, all in seven years.

The police say he is an investor in one of the seven call centres raided earlier this month. He ran two other such centres in Malad and Borivli, shut them down after the raids but made no attempt to flee, assuming the police would never get to him. He was wrong.

During the initial questioning, the police learnt Kanani earned anything between Rs40 lakh and Rs50 lakh a month from the call centres that had about 50 employees.

A senior crime branch official heading the probe said Kanani joined his father in the family-owned garment shop in Chennai after completing his MBA from Pune in 2009.

“It is a small shop in suburban Chennai. The father-son duo could barely manage Rs15,000-20,000 a month,” said the officer, who interrogated Kanani for more than six hours following his arrest.

In a few years, Kanani moved out of that city, back to his home state Gujarat and joined a BPO in Ahmedabad.

“It was a genuine BPO, but we are trying to find out why he chose to join the low income job despite having a degree from a good institute,” the official said.

A crime branch source said Kanani intentionally took the BPO job to learn the business as fake BPOs were alreadt flourishing in Ahmedabad then. “All these BPOs were duping people from across the country. Kanani saw an opportunity,” sources said.

In the next two years, Kanani set up a fake call centre in Ahmedabad.“He got data of loan defaulters from banks and called them up to force a settlement. This is known as payday fraud,” sources said. In 2013 or 2014, Kanani, made several trips to the US and UK to learn about taxpayers there and how they could be scammed using call centres in India. He started working on a business model.

“He set up a bogus call centre at Prestige Industrial Estate in Orlem, Malad (West), took on lease 7-8 offices in a building and another one at Borivli (East). He hired two buildings near BMC colony in Malad for accommodation for his employees. He would have bought those buildings if the business had not come under police surveillance,” said sources.

His fake call centres also ran on the revenue officials script: callers targeted taxpayers in the US by masquerading as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials.

Six months ago, he invested in one of the Mira Road centres and took an entire floor on rent for Rs4 lakh a month. “He was setting up the hardware when the police raided,” sources said.

Kanani owns six two-bedroom flats around Malad and Borivli, costing well over Rs10 crore, and a three-bedroom penthouse in Borivli where he used to live. “Apart from his real estate investments, he owned a high end cars and lived lavishly. Every time I met him, he would ask for money claiming he suffered losses,” said a friend, not wishing to be named. The police said it was an attempt to evade suspicion. The probe showed Kanani managed to destroy most of the hardware before he was arrested.

First Published: Oct 19, 2016 01:11 IST