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Busted city call centres linked to Mumbai conman
Rituraj Borthakur
 GUWAHATI, Aug 19 - The two call centres busted in the Basistha area of the city are linked to Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy, the alleged mastermind of a Rs 1,900-crore call centre scam, who was arrested by the Maharashtra Police earlier this month.

Sagar Thakkar, the alleged mastermind of the Internal Revenue Service call centre scam in which thousands of Americans were defrauded to the tune of $300 million, was operating the extortion racket since 2013 through its call centres across the country. They had targeted at least 15,000 US-based tax payers, who were allegedly conned by Indian tele-callers who impersonated as Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Immigration and other federal officials and demanded payments for non-existent debts.

Basistha police has busted two such call centres, one located at Beltola Tiniali and another at a complex at Bhetapara. The tele-callers at the centres, in the guise of IRS officers, had conned gullible people of the United States. One centre was being run by the name RK Group of Enterprise.

Police were tipped-off about the fraud by an employee of the ‘company’, who had left the job about a month back.

“The employees at the call centre were given well-prepared scripts while making calls to gullible people in the US. They used to claim to be officials of a so-called IRS. They had a set of answers for any possible query which the victims could pose,” Basistha ACP Mousumi Kalita, the investigating officer of the case, said.

The victims were charged with tax evasion. They were told that cases were registered against them. Unsuspecting victims then used to offer fines which were routed to India online.

The ACP said police found a list of around 4,000 people from the United States at the call centre office. Apparently, the frauds used to call up the numbers randomly. The call centres were in operation at the area since around nine months now and they had over 50 employees.

Police have arrested eight persons so far, including the ‘Admin’ of the Beltola Tiniali office identified as Rana Prasad Kalita of Jalukbari.

“Seven of them were directly involved in the scheming. Another person used to deal with the money transactions like paying of salaries, etc. Most payments at the office were done in cash,” sources said.

Those arrested include Shivam Garg and Ketan Kaushal of Haryana, Kanha Gujjar of Ajmer, Mavada Punit of Gujarat, Vipul Chauhan of Bengaluru, Ram Kumar Rai of Bihar and Yogesh Mall of Bharalumukh.

Investigations revealed that the Basistha call centre was opened by Himang, an associate of Shaggy. He had roped in two persons – Rajamoni Baidya of Guwahati and Bhupender Singh of Ahmedabad for setting up the centre. The one at Bhetapara was opened by Rajesh Khan of Ahmedabad.

Meanwhile, a team from city police led by ADCP (East) Bibekananda Das has left for Ahmedabad to carry forward the investigations.

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