THE THANE Police, probing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) racket, claimed to have found a Chinese link to it. Police claimed the iTunes gift cards the accused obtained from US citizens were converted into cash with the help of a Chinese national identified as “Ben”. Since there is a high demand for iTunes gift cards in China, police claimed Ben would sell these cards there, earning a commission and routing the rest of the money back to India through hawala channels. Police earlier arrested Ashish Choudhary, the main processor in the IRS scam. His interrogation helped them find out how the iTunes cards were converted into cash. “He told us he was in touch with a person called Ben in China. He claimed Ben would purchase all the gift cards from him and give him a meagre commission of around 25 paise for every dollar,” a police officer said.
“Ben would then convert the cards into cash and send the money back to India through hawala channels. The money would be sent to Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy, the mastermind of the scam. He would then distribute the money to others,” the officer said. “This is what Choudhary has told us so far. We are verifying his claims. We are also trying to find out who Ben is, if it is his actual name or a pseudonym,” he added.
Police had earlier said the arrest of Choudhary would help them complete the chain of how money earned fraudulently from US citizens made its way to the accused in India. Thakkar has been arrested and is currently lodged in Thane central prison.