Mumbai IRS Scam: Cops on the lookout for suspects who provided tech support to call centres

Say someone well-versed in information technology enabled the scam.

Written by Mohamed Thaver | Mumbai | Published:October 24, 2016 2:15 am
irs scam, call centre scam, mumbai call centre scam, irs scam update, india news, indian express, 72 people — including those who invested in and operated these call centres — have been arrested.

The Thane Police are on the lookout for suspects who provided technical support to the call centres in Mira Road-Bhayandar area that were allegedly making fraudulent calls to American taxpayers.

While 72 people — including those who invested in and operated these call centres — have been arrested in connection with the scam, police believe someone with a “strong information technology” background enabled the call centres to function, given the highly sophisticated technology used in maintaining the centres.

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An officer assisting the Thane Police in probing the technical aspects of the case told The Indian Express that technical support of “high quality” was provided to the call centres. He said the call centres did not use a single number for more than eight to 10 days. After several people would mark the number as ‘spam’, the call centre would change it so that other recipients would not get suspicious. The phone numbers kept changing and all calls were routed through an internet telephonic service provider that made calls from India appear to be originating from the United States. Apart from these calls, the call centres did not have physical servers, the officer said. The servers used by the call centres in Mira Road, and their counterparts in Ahmedabad, were hosted on the internet using services like cloud computing. As a result, call centres in both Maharashtra and Gujarat could use the same set of data and it was also easier for them to delete information in case of an emergency, the officer explained. “These are not processes that can be learnt overnight. There has to be someone well-versed with IT to be able to come up with such systems,” said the officer.

A senior officer with Thane police said so far they are not certain about who was providing the IT support to these call centres. “Several people are still on the run and some or one of them could be providing IT support,” said the officer.

The Thane police on October 5 raided 12 call centres in the Mira Road-Bhayandar area. The employees of the call centres would threaten US citizens to settle tax defaults by making a payment. Police suspect that Ahmedabad was the hub and those who were successfully operating these call centres there had then moved to the Mira-Bhayandar stretch.

*Mastermind has fled to Dubai: Cops

Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy, suspected to be the mastermind in the scam, left the country with his sister for Dubai the morning the police raided the call centres.  “We are investigating if someone leaked the information about the raids,” said a cop.