THE THANE police probing the IRS scam have arrested the man who allegedly helped convert iTunes gift cards into cash for the accused. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scam duped hundreds of US citizens, who were contacted by call centre staffers posing as revenue officials and threatened to pay up or invite police action. The payment was made through iTunes cards.
According to the police, Ashish Choudhary, suspected to be a close aide of the scam ‘mastermind’ Sagar Thakkar, converted these cards into cash. Choudhary’s arrest helps complete the chain of how the money collected from US citizens made its way to India, the Thane police said.
“Choudhary was arrested from Delhi a few days ago. We had been looking for him for the past few months. He has an important role to play in the scam,” a senior officer said.
“Once the call centre employees collected the iTunes card numbers, they would be passed on to Choudhary, who is in his early 30s. Choudhary would then convert them into cash. He would keep a cut for himself and route the rest of the amount back through Thakkar. The cash would then be distributed down the chain. His interrogation will help us understand how he converted the cards into cash,” the officer added.
The officer added that they were on the lookout for more accused in the case, including Thakkar’s sister Reema.
A senior officer said they were likely to file the first chargesheet against Thakkar this week.
“We interrogated him for two weeks and have gathered evidence. We will file the chargesheet this week. We will also seek Thakkar’s custody in connection with another FIR linked to the same case registered against him,” the officer said. Thakkar is lodged at Thane central prison.
Between 2012 and 2015, at least 500 employees in nine call centres in Mira Bhayandar area and in Ahmedabad reportedly made calls to hundreds of US citizens. The accused are suspected to have duped their victims of an estimated $300 million. So far, 70 people have been arrested and 397 chargesheeted in the case.