SIX MONTHS after Thane Police uncovered a bogus call-centre racket through which operators posing as Internal Revenue Service officers duped US nationals of an estimated $300 million, the alleged mastermind — Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy, 24 — has been located in Dubai.
The process of issuing a Red Corner Notice (RCN) for Thakkar is nearly complete, following which India will initiate extradition proceedings, officials told The Indian Express.
Between 2012 and 2015, at least 500 employees from nine offices in the Mira Bhayandar area of Thane and in Ahmedabad reportedly made calls to thousands of US citizens posing as IRS officials, demanding that they settle their outstanding tax disputes or face arrest.
On the night of October 5, 2016, teams from the Thane police raided the bogus call centres, and arrested 70 people. Thakkar along with his sister Reema fled the same night to Dubai.
Thane Police commissioner Param Bir Singh said they had been informed about Thakkar being stopped by authorities in Dubai but refused to comment further.
A senior officer said, “Last month, we were informed by officials in Dubai that Sagar Thakkar was detained at Dubai airport as he was trying to fly out of UAE. As the entire process of getting an RCN against Sagar was not complete, they could not detain him. But he will not be allowed to fly out of the country. Once the procedure is complete, we will seek his custody.”
Thane Police began the process of getting the RCN issued last month. As part of the process, all evidence linked to Thakkar was sent to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the nodal agency for Interpol, which has further forwarded the dossier.
“There are a few formalities that have to be completed after which we will ask for Thakkar to be extradited to India. Based on the interaction we have had so far, we are optimistic about getting Thakkar’s custody soon,” said the officer.
Sources said Ahmedabad Police and the FBI were also keen to get Sagar’s custody.
“Thakkar’s interrogation will give us information on how the racket operated since he was one the main people who set it up. There are many unanswered questions about the scam, from how Thakkar got the contacts of US citizens targeted by callers to the identities of others involved,” said the officer.