Thane call centre scam mastermind suspected to be in Europe: Police

Thane Police raided at least 9 bogus call centres in October last year and arrested 70 employees and booked 630, who were let off after taking down their names and addresses.

mumbai Updated: May 18, 2017 13:41 IST
Arvind Walmiki
Arvind Walmiki
Hindustan Times, Thane
Thane,Thane call centre scam,Sagar Thakkar
Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy is the alleged mastermind of Thane call centre scam.(HT File Photo)

The alleged mastermind behind the bogus call centre racket in Thane that cheated Americans out of millions of dollars is suspected to be hiding in Europe after being traced in Dubai a couple of months ago, police said on Thursday.

Officials said the process of getting a Red Corner notice against Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy was underway and is likely to take a couple of months.

RCN is issued by the Interpol to seek location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action. It is a request from one country to another to arrest and deport the wanted individual.

Thane Police raided at least 9 such bogus call centres founded by Thakkar in October last year and arrested 70 employees and booked 630, who were let off after taking down their names and addresses.

The Thane crime branch filed a 5,000-page chargesheet in the case in December 2016 that named 700 people as accused. The police also filed supplementary chargesheet in February showing the properties that were seized.

As per the charge sheet, employees of these call centres targetted US citizens by masquerading as officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and department of treasury and extorted millions of dollars by making fake calls and threatening people with tax fraud or tax evasion.

The probe that followed found that the centres were used as a front to cheat loan defaulters in the US.

Thakkar roped in several of his childhood friends to form a network of trustworthy floor managers, who then ran the multi-million dollar con across cities, officials said.

“The business ran like the pyramid marketing schemes in which everyone contributes to the overall success. That is probably why they kept business secrets so well that no one found out about the scheme for so long,” officials added.

Thakkar, who has been named in the chargesheet, left the country two weeks before the October 4 raid and changed his location after that. He was in touch with a few of the accused after police raided the call centres in Mira Road in Thane.

Police sources said Thakkar rarely visited the call centres and whenever he came to Mumbai or Thane he would meet the top managers outside the premises.

Police have learnt that Sagar’s elder sister Reema, 27, helped him manage the call centres’ finances. Reema maintained the salary register of the call centres and would visit them regularly.

“She and Sagar would distribute the employees’ salaries,” sources said.

Reema went underground as soon as the scam was unearthed, officials said.

Police said Thakkar led a flamboyant lifestyle, frequented 5-star hotels and drove expensive cars. They added the 23-year-old gifted a Rs 2.5 crore Audi R8 to his girlfriend on her birthday.

Thakkar bought the luxury car from an Indian test cricketer who sold it to him for Rs 70 lakh. The car was seized by the police.

The accused have been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for extortion, cheating, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy, apart from sections of the Indian Telegraph Act and IT Act.

First Published: Apr 06, 2017 10:00 IST