Four men were arrested on Monday for operating a fake call centre and cheating American citizens by posing as officers from the USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
A team of officials from Kandivali police raided a premise in Gorai after receiving a tip-off. The accused, Irfan Hashim Shaikh, Jinel Patel, Adil Husein Advani and Umesh Parekh, had previously worked at junior positions at different e-commerce websites, said police.
An officer said that Parekh was the mastermind of the operation in Gorai.
According to the police, the accused had sent out thousands of text messages to US citizens, primarily those living in the states of California and New Jersey, claiming that their vehicles had been seized by the FBI as part of a criminal investigation. The messages warned the recipients that they faced possible legal action.
“The message also included an US-based phone number. Those who fell for the fraudulent messages, would call the phone number believing that their vehicle was in the possession of the FBI,” said the officer.
The accused, who have all been trained to speak English in an American accent, would allegedly pose as FBI officials and offer a way out to the US citizens who responded to the messages. “The accused would instruct callers to purchase a gift card online, peel off the label and tell them the code printed below. The accused would then redeem the value of the gift card online. The money would then be credited to an American bank account,” the officer added.
The police are also looking for an associate of the accused based in the US, who they believe would receive the money from the unwitting American citizens and transfer it back to India. However, the police are yet to ascertain how much money the accused have made.
“The call centre has been operating for only 15 days. We have seized computers and mobile phones of the accused and are going through the devices to understand how many people they have cheated so far,” the officer said.
The accused were produced in court on Tuesday, which remanded them to police custody till October 9.
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