The Noida police on Thursday said they have arrested 84 people, including 36 women, after a raid at a call centre on charges of duping US citizens of crores of rupees by pretending to be American government officials. According to reports, most of the employees were residents of Nagaland and Manipur.
The accused had a database of around five lakh US citizens that included their names, contact numbers and some financial details which were used to target them and take them into confidence, they said.
The raid was conducted at the call centre located in Sector 6, having a capacity of 150 desktops, around 5 pm on Wednesday over inputs of such illegal operations being carried out from a facility during night, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Noida) Harish Chander said.
“It’s a large-size call centre. We have arrested 84 people, including women, from there. The centre functioned during night,” Chander, flanked by Additional DCP Shakti Mohan Avasthy and ACP Sushil Kumar, told reporters.
“The call centre was used two to three times a week and in one night alone, the gang would make Rs. 25 lakh to Rs. 30 lakh. They had been operating for around four months now from the facility in Noida,” the DCP said.
Two key persons who are believed to be the masterminds behind this call centre have been identified but are at large, the officer said.
The US embassy has also been informed about it, while formal communication with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Interpol is being established, the police said.
On the gang’s modus operandi, Chander said they interacted with US citizens after contacting them using voice messages in which the callers would scare the gullible Americans by saying their ‘social security number’ — a unique identity given by the government – has been “compromised”.
“The gang would then tell the US citizens that for assistance in fixing the problem, they should press 1 on their phones after which the call would land at their call centre (in Noida). Using a software, these people talked to them and shared their personal details, further convincing them that they are government officials,” he said.
Once trapped, the gang would tell the gullible people that they can use the help of “US Marshals” to get rid of the problem. If people agreed, they were put in touch with “US Marshalls”, who again would be the gang members disguising themselves as American government officials, the DCP added.
“Eventually the US citizens were asked to make payments in online transfers, through coupon cards of Apple, or as in some cases, even through cryptocurrency like Bitcoin,” the officer said.
The police said they have seized Rs. 20 lakh cash from the call centre which was to be disbursed among the workers in the form of their monthly salary.
The police have seized 150 computer sets from the site for which teams of the forensic and the cyber departments were also engaged.
An FIR in connection with the case has been lodged at Phase 1 police station and further legal proceedings are underway, the officials said.