Thane: Over 500 employees from three call centers in Mira Road were detained for allegedly threatening the US citizens and siphoning off their money in a raid, after a probe by the Thane crime branch and Thane rural police showed the centres were a front for cheating loan defaulters in the United States.
The employees, including top officials, were questioned all night after raids at three call centres, the raid was carried out by over 200 police personnel, mostly from the Crime Branch, late Tuesday night and continued in the wee hours on Wednesday, they said.
The call centre workers would pretend to be tax officials and blackmail Americans in the name of tax irregularities. The owner of one of the companies, reportedly based in the US, allegedly stole information and passed it on to the call centres. Executives would then call clients pretending to be tax investigators.
Those who believed the threats would fork out thousands of dollars to "settle" their case.
Many employees would demand financial and bank details from clients and use them to take out money from their accounts,
Superintendent of Police (SP),Dr Mahesh Patil, while confirming the raids, said the call centres were under the radar after similar ones were recently raided in Ahmedabad. The probe, according to the police, found the Ahmedabad centres to be the origin of the scam. The scamsters used a special software to mask the number they were calling from. The software ensured the receiver saw a US number on their phones, Patil said. The employees were trained to speak in American accents,the police said.
The police are also probing the role of agents based in the US, who earned a 30% commission for every trap, while the Mira Road agent got a 70% commission. Investigations showed a victim was targeted by two callers and every caller had a daily target to achieve. The job was advertised through stickers in local trains that offered an attractive pay to lure unemployed youth.
While the police are questioning the employees of the three centres, a probe is on to find what they suspect is a gang — suspected to be based in Ahmedabad — behind the entire operation.
The process of registering offence in the matter was on, police said. Further details of the racket were awaited.