TAKEN ABACK by the ease with which bogus call centres have been operating in the Mira Road area, the Thane police probing the call centre scam, plan to suggest a set of guidelines to the government to help avoid such incidents. While so far the police have raided 12 call centres at the Mira Road-Bhayander stretch, similarly unregulated and bogus call centres across the country are still suspected of duping both Indians and foreign nationals.
Thane Commissioner Param Bir Singh said that while India’s Information Technology (IT) industry is renowned world-over, such cases of bogus call centres give it a bad name.
“The absolute ease with which these call centres were operating is shocking. While currently we are caught up with investigation and are still understanding how the entire system worked, eventually we will be writing to the government suggesting a few guidelines that could avoid such a scenario in the future,” Singh said.
Among the suggestions will be setting up an authority that could keep tabs on the call centre industry. “For various fields there are regulatory bodies that ensure that everyone is playing by the rules.
For example, the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority of India (IRDAI) is a statutory body that regulates the insurance industry. Similarly, there should be a regulatory body in place to govern call centres to ensure that illegal activities are not carried out under its cover,” Singh told The Indian Express.
A senior officer added that to set up a call centre one does need permission from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) but it does not regulate the workings of call centres.
Apart from regulatory bodies, the police also found that several of these call centres were operating out of offices that did not have Occupational Certificates as well.
“There have to be a mandatory set of clearances that should be submitted before the regulator before call centres are allowed to operate,” an officer said.
The Thane police raided 12 bogus call centres last week after its employees were caught making fraudulent calls to US citizens.
Posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials, the employees called US citizens, asking them to “settle” their tax defaults and threatened them with arrest if they refused. After agreeing to settle, the victims were then sent to specific shops and malls to purchase gift cards.
The Thane police found bogus call centres in Ahmedabad making similar fraudulent calls. The extent of the fraud was so wide, that the IRS had to issue advisories asking the US citizens to be cautious of fake IRS calls coming from India. So far, 73 people have been arrested by the Thane police, including managers and callers.