Thane: 70 call centre staff held for duping US citizens

According to the investigating team, the victims in the US were threatened with a “tax investigation” by Mira Road call centre executives impersonating as American Internal Revenue Services (IRS) officials.

Written by Rohit Alok | Mumbai | Updated: October 6, 2016 9:45 am
mumbai-call-centre-759 An arrested call centre worker. Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty

Over the past year, many American citizens were reportedly duped by operators at nine call centres in the satellite township of Mira Road, about 40 km from Mumbai. Late Tuesday night, Thane police raided these call centres, booked 700 persons and made 70 arrests.

According to the investigating team, the victims in the US were threatened with a “tax investigation” by Mira Road call centre executives impersonating as American Internal Revenue Services (IRS) officials. Thane Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said to escape tax investigation, many Americans agreed to pay between US $500and $60,000.

An audio recording of an employee at one of these call centres, now in the possession of the Thane Police, had him tell his prospective victim: “There is a lawsuit filed in your name regarding tax evasion or tax fraud.”

An officer said the call centre employees were trained to speak with an American accent. The nine alleged bogus call centres were located at three different locations, seven in a business park off Western Express Highway, one in a bungalow in Mira Road and one in a small shop in a residential building of the suburb.


“The employees would begin the conversation telling the listener the badge number and name of the IRS official. They would threaten the Americans saying if they didn’t pay up, then the police would raid their home in the next half hour,” said Singh. Investigations showed the calls were made through Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP). “The accused had spoofed the toll number of IRS. So when the victim received a call, Internal Revenue Services would flash on their phone,” Singh said.

Victims would be coaxed to purchase a gift card of a specific brand and forced to transfer the money through these gift cards. “These gift cards would have a 16-digit serial number that the employees would coerce the American to share over the phone. The employees would threaten the victims that if they disconnected the line their house would be raided,” an officer said. Once the employee has the serial number, a transaction is made and the line is disconnected.

Police identified eight main accused in the operation as Haidar Ali (24), Hamza Bolesar (34), Kabir Vardhan (26), Arjun Vasudev (24), Abdul Zariwala (22), Johnson Dontosa (24), Govind Thakur (28) and Ankit Gupta (19). These eight, and 62 others, were arrested on charges of cheating under the Indian Penal Code, along with relevant sections under the Indian Telegraph Act and the IT Act.

“In our raid, we found 772 persons, 70 of whom have been arrested, 630 more are listed accused but not arrested yet and 72 others who have been let off for not having any direct benefit from the con,” Singh said.

Police suspect that one of the owners of the call centres worked in the US and stole information that was misused. According to Thane police, a day’s turnover from all these call centres was around Rs 1.5 crore.

“Our initial investigation shows they had so many contact details of American nationals that only two of a hundred people would be deceived,” an officer claimed.

The police said they seized 851 hard disks, internet servers, DVRs, laptops, all worth more than Rs 1 crore.

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  1. R
    Oct 6, 2016 at 4:45 am
    Of the 70 arrested, at least three will be murdered in prison and claimed as suicides. Trust me!
    1. M
      Mercer Roy
      Oct 9, 2016 at 11:58 pm
      This article tells a story. You bring in immigrants, squeeze every single bit of youth and Iife out of them for years. Now they are taking back using backdoor methods. Life is a circle.
      1. I
        Oct 6, 2016 at 2:20 am
        Mira road Mumbai is Muslim area, Good Hindu guys got caught into company of bad Muslims as usual and they together committed looting as told by Islam and kuran.
        1. F
          Oct 6, 2016 at 4:07 am
          There is something very fishy it he arrests. There is no truth in the report saying "many American agreed to pay $500 to $60000. Just KRAP. Brahmin dogs behind these raids and false charges!
        2. A
          Oct 9, 2016 at 1:41 pm
          I want pictures of the 70 so I can get a contract put out for them...
          1. A
            Oct 9, 2016 at 1:42 pm
            all 70 should be castrated and then killed...
          2. D
            David Sim
            Oct 9, 2016 at 9:22 pm
            Such a shame that it was allowed to continue on as long as it did, sure changes my opinion of India and the people;br/gt;lt;br/gt;In fact, most things I hear in the news about India are not very good these days, rapes, gang rapes, frauds and scams, terrible pollution,;br/gt;lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Not interested in travelling to India, ever !!!
            1. P
              Oct 6, 2016 at 3:31 am
              On a mega scale, Indian call centres in Delhi/Gurgaon are engaged in cyber-extortion activities. Those watching adult sites are infected and then asked to part with;br/gt;They remain scot-free. Why?
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