Mumbai

Telecalling racket busted, seven held in Bhayander

Game over: Navghar police officers with the accused in Bhayander on Saturday.

Game over: Navghar police officers with the accused in Bhayander on Saturday.  

Accused duped U.S. nationals by posing as Internal Revenue Service officers

The Navghar police arrested seven people in Bhayander on Saturday and busted a telecalling racket, the fourth instance in the country over the past few years. The accused posed as officers of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and used Voice Over Internet Protocol facility to dupe U.S. nationals into paying ‘pending taxes’.

The Navghar police said the accused have been identified as Zubair Sheikh (26), Savio Gonsalves (42), Raju Rathod (29), Harsh Kaaji (23), Siddharth Pillai (22) and Saurabh Jha (29) and Siddhi Nair (29). Atul Kulkarni, Additional Superintendent of Police, Thane Rural Police, said, “The accused are believed to have paid hackers to secure the personal details of targets such as name, social security number and tax history. They then underwent language and accent training and followed a written script while speaking to their targets.”

Mr. Kulkarni said the accused also conned their victims into buying ‘anti-virus products’ by claiming that they had detected viruses in their computers. He said, “Payment for the software would be accepted as iTunes gift cards. The amount would then be converted from dollars to bitcoins and then into Indian currency.” The police have recovered a large database on U.S. citizens, six computers, seven CPUs, ₹1.4 lakh in cash and mobile phones. The accused have been charged with cheating under the Indian Penal Code along with relevant sections of the Information Technology Act.

Not the first instance

The Navghar police are now investigating if there are any links between the racket and the ones busted earlier and whether the arrested accused have shared the database of U.S. citizens with any other gangs. In June 2016, the Thane Police Crime Branch arrested 70 people for allegedly running a similar racket and extracting money from U.S. nationals for settling tax irregularities.

In June 2017, eight people were arrested for being involved in a telecalling racket in Ambarnath, and the Mumbai Police Crime Branch’s Unit III arrested 13 people in November 2017 for running a similar racket. In February 2018, two accused were arrested for offering loans to U.S. citizens at low interest rates and taking ‘processing fees’ from them.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 9:17:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/telecalling-racket-busted-seven-held-in-bhayander/article24782567.ece

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