MUMBAI: Police sources on Friday revealed how the Mumbai call centre fraudsters operated—they acquired information from well-known people search websites and got real-time updates on their targets.
The fraudsters used the sites, which provide details like a person’s name and address, a high-ranking officer from Thane crime branch told Express.
On Thursday, police told the court they had identified transactions worth nearly Rs 30 crore in the call centre scam till now. It will take a long time for them to arrive at the actual figure given the magnitude of the scandal, they added. In just four months of this year, from June 1 to October 4, they appear to have collected Rs 12 crore from just one call centre, the police officer said.
After selecting their victims, they made a threatening internet-based call to many phone numbers simultaneously, called ‘call blasting’. Some of the victims got frightened and called back. The call centre executives then used the caller’s phone number and surfed the websites to figure out how rich the person was.
Those thought to be richer were prioritised and the agents engaged with them in lengthier conversations to negotiate the sum the victim had to pay, the police officer added.
The scam mastermind, Sagar Thakkar (alias Shaggy), and his associates used to ‘blast’ the VOIP calls from Ahmedabad. They were made using Direct Inward Dialling—at a time, 10 US citizens could get calls with the help of a software.
The fraudsters asked their targets to keep their mobile phone in speaker mode and go to the nearest reputed supermarket where they would be instructed to purchase ‘gift cards’ and tell their 16 digit number. It was passed on to Thakkar, who in turn would call his vendors in the US and ask them to deposit the cards worth thousands of dollars.
The money was received in India through the hawala route, the officer said.