Call centre scam: More arrests likely as police widens scope of probe

INDIA-CALLCENTRE/ARRESTS Policemen come out of one of the closed call centres in Mira-Bhayander, on the outskirts of Mumbai | Reuters

The police are on the trail of owners and promoters of call centres involved in the multi-crore racket, which is turning out to be a fraud of pan-national proportions, involving the duping of U.S. citizens by a section of the call centre employees.

Till date, the crime branch of Mumbai police have detained several hundred call centre workers for posing as 'U.S. taxmen' and eliciting banking and other private financial information from U.S. nationals. The police however are treading with caution when it comes to formally arresting the call centre workers. Over 70 people have been arrested so far in connection with the racket. The police is trying to elicit information from those arrested, as to the number of people involved in the dubious operations and the way these call-centre employees 'operated, took commands and executed them to a tee.'

And once the details were 'obtained and secured', their banks accounts were cleaned out. Prima facie it is known that the call-centre employees, who may be part of a loose collection of individuals with criminal intent, managed to defraud U.S. accounts (mostly belonging to individual citizens) to the tune of Rs 1 crore a day. But the police are yet to fully ascertain the precise scope and ambit of the scattered money racket.

Surprisingly, these call-centres functioned out of the Mira Road, Kashimira area in western Mumbai suburbs. But it remains to be seen if the call-centres in other parts of the city too were party to the trans-national cheating offence.

The police are pondering over the technicalities to invoke Sections 418 and 419 (that of cheating and cheating by impersonation) of the IT Act and the Indian Telegraph Act against those found guilty.

According to the police, these 'trained' call centre workers called up U.S. nationals, conversing with them in chaste American accent, and posed as officials belonging to the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which offered various tax breaks for U.S. citizens.

Police officials are working out leads as to how efficiently these 'bunch of call centre employees' functioned and eventually managed to hoodwink U.S. nationals to part with private, secret information. The police are also trying to discover the role of 'kingpins' behind the apparently unconnected call-centre operations. The cops are also looking into the possibility that other major cities across the country were also being used as 'launchpads' to financially target U.S. nationals.

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