THE AMBERNATH-based call centre that was busted by the Thane Police on Friday had shut down its operations for a few weeks after hearing about the crackdown on bogus call centres on the Mira Road-Bhayander stretch, said the police. Later, when things settled down, Mount Logic Solutions allegedly began its ‘illegal’ operations under the cover of legal operations, an officer said. The police have found several similarities between the two bogus call centres — the ones on Mira Road-Bhayander stretch and Ambernath.
The police also made a ninth arrest in the case on Friday. An officer said: “During preliminary investigation, the accused told us that they had stopped their illegal calls soon after hearing about the raids on the call centres in Mira Road-Bhayander. When things settled down, however, they began making calls again.” The police added that the call centre also had valid third-party licence to call on behalf of clients based in the US.
“The calls for which they had no authorisation, were made on the sly from the same premises,” an officer said. Such was the level of secrecy about the illegal activities carried out in the office, that even some of the employees were unaware of the same, the police said. The Indian Express spoke to a Voice and Accent (V&A) trainer, who had worked at the company. “I quit last month due to salary issues. I was shocked to read in the papers that it was involved in such fraudulent activities. I have been working in the call centre industry for over a decade now and I know how call centres work. When I was there, there was absolutely nothing suspicious. I never suspected any wrongdoing,” said the woman on condition of anonymity.
“I would train employees to help them acquire a neutral accent so that US citizens could understand them. They were to talk to US citizens about debt management. If the citizen agreed to avail of their services, the call would then be transferred to the US-based call centre. To the best of my knowledge, there were no collections made from here,” she added. The Thane police have said the callers were involved in a “payday scam”.
The police said callers, most in their 20s and having cleared Class XII, would pretend to be calling from Colombus Bank and lure probable victims by promising them a loan of $ 6,000. The accused would then demand a processing fee of nearly $ 100 – 500, which would be taken in iTunes gift cards, said police. Through Skype, the accused would then pass on the 16 digit gift card numbers to a Ludhiana-based processor identified currently as ‘hyper’.
Hyper would process the gift cards and transfer cash to the accused. An officer said: “It appears that the scale of the scam is much smaller than that of those operating on the Mira Road-Bhayander stretch. While there they had over 500 callers, here they hardly had over 10 -15 people making these calls.” He added: “However, so far, we have not had the time to go through their hard disks and get details about calls made by them. Within a few days, we should be able to get more clarity on the scale of the crime. The nine arrested persons were produced in court and have been remanded in police custody for four days.”