Investigation into the call centre racket in Thane wherein US-based tax payers were allegedly conned by Indian tele-callers posing as tax officers has led Thane Police to suspect involvement of the son of a senior IPS officer from Gujarat. Crime Branch (Thane Police) has so far arrested 70 persons after it raided seven call centres operating illegally in Mira Road in the neighbouring district earlier this month. Another 630 people were booked under IPC sections 384 (extortion), 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating) and under relevant sections of the IT Act and Indian Telegraph Act.
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The callers used to make calls to people in the US and speak to them in American accent by posing as officials of US Internal Revenue Service. Subsequently, police teams also raided and shut down five call centres in Ahmedabad which were a part of the racket. A senior official of Thane Police, who is a part of investigation team, told PTI that the evidences unearthed so far indicated that the mastermind of the racket, Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy, who is absconding, had links with a senior IPS officer’s son in Gujarat.
According to the officer, it is suspected that the son of the IPS officer was involved in running these illegal call centres in Ahmedabad. Thane Police then passed on this information to their Gujarat counterparts, the officer said. Investigators found that the call centres in Ahmedabad, which were raided by local police recently, resumed their operations soon afterwards.
Thane Crime Branch is probing why no concrete action was taken against these call centres, the official said. During interrogation of the arrested accused, investigators got information about illegal call centres running in Pralhad Nagar in Ahmedabad since 2009. Police also found a huge server installed in one of these call centres (in Ahmedabad) which had the entire data base generated from the call centres which were part of the racket, including the ones in Mira Road.
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Haider, one of the arrested men, told police that Sagar Thakkar allegedly gave 30 per cent of the ill-gotten income to his agents in the United States who provided him data base of US tax-payers. Of the remaining amount, 40 per cent went to Tapesh Gupta, Akhilesh Singh, Rahul Dogra, Jimmy (all absconding) and Haider, while Sagar kept the 60 per cent share. The daily turn-over from the call centers in Mira Road was around Rs 2 crore, the officer said.
Call executives were designated as ‘dialler’, who made the call and ‘closer’, who carried out final ‘negotiations’. Dialler got two rupees per every US dollar earned by the racketeers, while the ‘closer’ got three rupees per every US dollar as incentive, over and above the salary, the official said. As the unearthing of this mammoth racket which was going on for several years could harm India’s reputation as a hub of BPO and outsourcing industry, the authorities were taking the matter very seriously, the officer added. On Saturday, an officer of the US probe agency FBI met the Thane Police team in connection with the probe.