THE THANE police probing the Ambernath call centre fraud have been able to track down victims in the US, thanks to an email trail they found. The police have learnt that the callers, who would cheat their victims by offering them loans, would also send them an email with a ‘debt restructuring plan’ to gain their trust. The police are now planning to write to the recipients of these mails, so that their statements can be added to the chargesheet.
So far, nine people have been arrested in the case. A senior officer said, “Unlike the other call centre scams, in this case, the accused would also send emails to convince US citizens that the call was genuine. The email, which would normally follow a phone call, would contain detailed debt management plans. Normally, after receiving these e-mails, the US citizens would be more agreeable to talk to them, an accused told us. Currently, all the data is in the hard disks that we seized from their call centre. Once the data is extracted from these disks, the process of contacting the victims will begin,” the officer said.
During the raids at the Mira Road-Bhayandar call centres in October too, the Thane police had reached out to the victims. “Having the victims’ statement is important since at the trial stage, we will need to show that people suffered monetary losses due to the activities of the accused. In the Thane case, we had to make calls at all the numbers that had been dialled by the accused to contact the victims,” an officer said.
Following the October raids, the Thane police website had been flooded with emails from US citizens, asking them what they could do to assist the probe. Currently, apart from interrogating the nine people who have been arrested, the police are questioning the owner, Jaya Gunjal, who had a licence to run the call centre. Officers are also looking for a Ludhiana-based person, a ‘money processor’, who helped the accused convert the payments they took in iTunes gift cards into cash.
“Once we arrest the ‘processor’, we will come to know who else was involved in the case,” an officer said. Of the nine arrested, most are callers, while three — Devesh Yerlekar, Sachin Chincholkar and Guru Prasad Shreyan — are managers. “Devesh and Guru Prasad seem to have an important role in the scam,” the officer added. Based on a tip off, the Thane police had raided Mount Logic call centre at Ambernath on June 9, and found that fraudulent phone calls were being made to US citizens.
The US nationals were promised loans of $6,000 and were ‘charged’ upto $500 for the deal, police said. The police believe the racket had been on for the past two years and the accused had raked in over Rs 1 crore.