Chennai

CCB busts online loan racket

The Bank Fraud Prevention Wing of the Central Crime Branch (CCB) has unearthed a network of fraudsters operating call centres and duping the public on the pretext of arranging quick online loans.

In a series of arrests, the police on Wednesday held the managing director of a popular vacation club, who is also a functionary of the MGR Mandram of the AIADMK, for abetting the criminal gang. He was accused of allowing the gang to operate from his premises on Anna Salai and collecting commission from them.

A few months ago, several persons in the city and suburbs complained to the CCB about losing money to unidentified callers. The officers of the special unit, led by its Assistant Commissioner S. Prabakaran, found that the calls originated from Sembakkam, and after tracing the money trail, caught Mohammed Zaheerudin, 31, and his associate Salim, 40, last month while they were withdrawing money from an ATM in Teynampet. The duo and their associates were running an office in Sembakkam and holding bank accounts in fictitious names. The back-end offices were being operated by a few other suspects — one of them identified as Selva alias Selvakumar, 44.

Police said they arrested Selva and his associates Kumaran and Mithuen Rayan on Monday. They were running call centres by engaging telecallers who contacted people over the mobile phone and offered quick online loans on a commission basis or privilege cards. They asked victims to pay ₹5,000 to ₹45,000, depending upon the loan amount, into their accounts. After collecting the OTP number and other details from victims, they swindled the money.

On further investigation, the police zeroed in on the place where they were operating from. The police team found a full-fledged call centre in a shopping complex on Anna Salai, in the heart of the city. Investigations revealed that the premises had been sub-let to the gang by Benze Saravanan, managing director of Benze Vacations Club.

Selva and his associates entered into an understanding with Saravanan to utilise the premises since the latter was not able to pay the rent. They ran a call centre here for four months by engaging more than 100 telecallers, most of them women, police said. The telecallers were harassed by bouncers if they failed to meet monthly targets. “They were beaten in case they failed to achieve the target and sexually harassed,” said a police officer.

Police said Saravanan was paid ₹6,500 by the gang for each case of cheating.

Efforts are on to trace more suspects.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 4:33:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/ccb-busts-online-loan-racket/article31044343.ece

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