JAGDISH KANANI, the latest arrest in the call centre scam, had allegedly set up ‘quarters’ for employees working at his two “bogus” call centres located in Malad and Borivli, according to the Thane police.
While the police raided the two call centres and found them to be empty, they were surprised to find that Kanani had arranged for all the employees at the two call centres to stay in a colony in Malad West. The police are finding out the rationale behind the arrangement. “Normally, it is only in government jobs that one is allotted quarters. However, in the case of Kanani, he had arranged for rented accommodation for the nearly 30-35 employees working at the two call centres owned by him operating out of eights units in Prestige Industrial Estate at Orlem and three shops from Western Edge II unit in Borivli. We are trying to find out who was paying the rent for these flats and where the employees currently are,” said a senior officer.
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The police suspect Kanani wanted to keep his call centre business low key and hence got the employees to stay near their offices. Investigators claimed that Kanani’s interrogation had helped them piece together a profile of him as an MBA who saw a meteoric rise — from a monthly earning of around Rs 20,000 helping his father in his saree business to over
Rs 25 lakh per month from the call centres, as per a rough estimate. Born and brought up in Chennai, Kanani did his Bachelor’s in Business Administration (BBA) from there before moving to Pune where he did his MBA from a prestigious institution, said a senior police officer.
After finishing his studies, Kanani joined his father’s saree business, before moving to Ahmedabad to work for a call centre for nearly three years, said an officer. Thereafter, he allegedly started a call centre in Ahmedabad along with a friend and they would make fraudulent calls.
“They would pretend to be calling from a bank and tell US citizens that the latter were defaulting on their loan amount and would need to settle the default amount in order to avoid being prosecuted. This was his first such experience with fraudulent calls. Nearly a year back, he shifted base to Mumbai and started the two call centres in Borivli and Malad,” added the officer.
Stating that Kanani already had the contacts in place and knew a channel to get data of US citizens, DCP Parag Manere said, “All he had to do was
set up a place and get employees, which did not take too much time. Apart from the
two call centres he owned, he also had stakes in one of the fake Mira Road call centres that was busted.”
With the call centres doing well, the police suspect Kanani was making around Rs 25 lakh per month.
“This is in addition to the several legal businesses that he was running. It is difficult to estimate how much money he was making per month in all,” said an officer.
Thane Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said, “We are interrogating Kanani. So far, no links to Sagar Thakkar, the suspected mastermind, have come to the fore.”
The scam was unearthed earlier this month when the Thane police raided 12 call centres operating out of Mira Road and found employees there making fraudulent calls to US citizens posing as US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials. They would tell the US citizens to “settle” their tax defaults, failing which they would be arrested by the police. The callers would then direct the victims to specific shops and malls depending on their ocations to purchase gift cards to make the financial transactions.