A Mumbai businessman who ‘mentored’ Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy, the alleged mastermind of the multi-million dollar fake call center racket, wherein US-based taxpayers were allegedly conned by Indian tele-callers, has been arrested, police said on Monday. The 33-year-old man, identified as Jagdish Kanani was arrested from suburban Borivali on Sunday night, a senior police officer said on the condition of anonymity. According to police, Thakkar, who is on the run, has worked under Kanani in the past at Ahmedabad and Mumbai, where he and some of his associates picked up the tricks of trade from his ‘Guru’.
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In fact, Kanani started out working in a BPO firm abroad where he learnt the methods of collection through outsourcing firms and brushed up his knowledge to build a lucrative business and then set up fake call centres across the country to earn a quick buck by extorting money from US victims, the officer said. Kanani came on the police radar after leads during interrogation of the arrested accused in the racket, he said.
Kanani is a prized catch for the Thane Police as it will help the cops dig more into the con syndicate which has spread its tentacles nationwide including in cities like Gurgaon, Ahmedabad and Thane, he said. The officer said that Kanani was the brain behind the fake call centres across the country including the one at Mira Road which was raided by Thane Police earlier this month. He is suspected to have helped Thakkar in shaping and setting up his ventures.
“Now that we have arrested him, we will get to know the whereabouts of Thakkar and others, whom he also mentored,” the police officer added. Crime Branch (Thane Police) have so far arrested 70 persons after it raided seven call centres operating illegally in Mira Road here. Another 630 people were booked under IPC sections 384 (extortion), 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating) and under relevant sections of IT Act and Indian Telegraph Act.
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. Also, investigations into the racket has led Thane Police to suspect involvement of the son of a senior IPS officer from Gujarat in running these illegal call centres in Ahmedabad.
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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. During interrogation of several 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. Haider, one of the arrested men, has told police that 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 accused) 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, police 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, they 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.