Call centre racket: Root of IRS scam traced to Gujarat, say police

‘First contact with prospective victims established from Ahmedabad call centres’

Written by Rohit Alok | Mumbai | Published:October 9, 2016 3:01 am
mumbai, irs scam mumbai, mumbai scam, mumbai call centre racket, call centre racket, mumbai call centre raids, call centre raids in maharashtra, thane call centre, call centre racket busted, call centre, fake irs officials, us citizens, india news, latest news Mumbai call centre racket: Seventy people were arrested after the raids at the Mira Road call centres. (File Photo)

The conception and commencement of the IRS scam, busted last week by the Thane Police following raids at eight call centres at Mira Road, is based in Gujarat, investigations have revealed. According to the police, Ahmedabad is the starting point of the crime, where call centres operate in tandem with the ones raided at Mira Road, about 45 km from Mumbai. The first contact with the prospective American victims of the fraud was often established from an Ahmedabad call centre, said the police.

“The voice mails sent to the American debtors are from Ahmedabad. While the call centres at Mira Road are less than five months old, the ones in Ahmedabad had been set up at least three years ago by the main conspirator, Shaggy,” an investigative officer said. Shaggy, according to the police, is 26-year-old Sagar Thakkar based out of Ahmedabad, and who allegedly established several call centres similar to the ones at Mira Road.

Victims in the US were threatened with a “tax investigation” by operators at these call centres, pretending to be officials from the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to a 28-year-old floor manager, arrested by the Thane Police, besides paying the 70 people who worked on his floor in cash, he would routinely call up his counterpart in Ahmedabad to give him a status update on the call flow of the night.

“The voice calls were made from Ahmedabad. If an American victim called back, it would be routed to our office. On any given day, usually the call flow between 7 pm to midnight would be slow, but would get very hectic between 12 am and 2 am. At least a 100 calls were recorded on the floor during the busy hours every night,” the floor manager told The Indian Express. The manager claimed that he would use his mobile phone to contact one Amit in Ahmedabad to report the call flow.

The police is now on a manhunt for two people. “Thakkar had come in contact with one Tapesh and one Haidar, whom he roped in as investors. Haidar has been arrested, but we are on the lookout for Thakkar and Tapesh. Their arrests will give more clarity on how the accused gained access to the list of Americans,” said an investigator. An arrested accused claimed that the employees knew Thakkar only as Shaggy and would know of his visit by a fancy car parked below the building.

“He always visited the seventh floor of the call centre off the Western Express Highway at Mira Road. His visits were very discreet. We would know he was visiting only by the fancy car with three armed bodyguards. We could see the car in our coffee breaks,” the accused said. Meanwhile, police investigation have found at least four more call centres at Mira Road off the Bhayandar-Mira Link Road which have also been working under the wanted conspirators.

According to investigators, scripts similar to those found at the raided call centres have been found. The new scripts in possession with the police suggest that the dialers of these locations were even impersonating US Treasury officials.

The Thane police are investigating likely links between the call centre fraud and two Indians deported from the US last year after being found guilty of impersonating IRS officials. The Thane police will probe whether the duo is connected to the IRS scam busted earlier this week following raids on Mira Road call centres. The deported Indians were arrested in September 2015 in New Jersey. The 32-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman were allegedly responsible for duping 70 US nationals across 32 states of nearly USD 15,000. “That was a rare arrest and the duo were collecting cash on behalf of Indian counterparts. We will follow that case and look for any connections,” said a senior Thane police officer. According to investigators, the 32-year-old man was visiting the US when he was arrested, while the woman was believed to be living on an expired visa.

rohit.alok@expressindia.com

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  1. H
    Hitlar
    Oct 15, 2016 at 8:12 pm
    To modi k under mein rehta kyu hai chal bhaag yaha se
    Reply
  2. A
    amey
    Oct 16, 2016 at 10:13 am
    many more call centers operating in gujrat same as the one busted...sab paise ka kamaal hai...sab accused fir se aarm se bahar aajayenge..jai ho modi sarkaar
    Reply
  3. M
    milan
    Oct 11, 2016 at 12:18 pm
    Mr. Alok: lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Excellent piece of journalism. Why did not mumbai media investigate sooner and start trporing before it became a raid?? More so, I am just wondering why it took so long for the crime branch of mumbai to move. How could they be operating under Mumbai police's nose for so long? After 26/11, is not Mumbai police and MH intelligence/police suposed to be working together? The world all over knew that these IRS "agents" with their heavy Indian accents and all, could barely speak English amd were in either India or Dubai. This is T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E!!!! Surely this must go higher up than just one "Shaggy," one "Tapesh," and one "Haider." One cannot run such a huge operation like this and it not be known or have the approval of a crime boss and multiple government officials. Surely Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel have knowledge and some percentage stake in this operation. And someone else in SOME CM office somewhere (MH or Gujarat) knew a lot of the details but were paid off well enough to keep wuiet for so long. We good citizens of the world expect good muckrakers like you to find out. Please keep digging. And great work!! Thank you!!!
    Reply
  4. S
    Shankar
    Oct 9, 2016 at 9:45 am
    I am sure it the investigations will lead to the Italian mother and son due , bhagwaan jaane aur kaun kaun se kaale shandhe ye maa bete ne khol rakhe hain
    Reply
  5. S
    SC Joshi
    Oct 9, 2016 at 7:05 am
    There is something black in the dal or Dal hi Kali hai? Let us see which ways the wind blows ?
    Reply
  6. S
    Swami
    Oct 9, 2016 at 11:26 am
    These Gujjus can do any thing to mint moneystead of poor workers , CBI should look into BJP office bearers from Ahmedabad to unearth how these amount was used in politics and for politics.Bhagwan jane, M00dy kya kuch nahin kare, Gujarat model ke naam pe.
    Reply
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