New Delhi: They used their call centre skills to project themselves as employees of UK banks to cheat Britons by luring them into obtaining unsecured loans and fleecing them of the processing fee.
But their luck ran out after the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police arrested five members of a gang which was running an illegal call centre from a rented accommodation in Shakti Vihar area in Pitampura following a complaint from the British High Commission.
The Commission, in its complaint, said that UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) had received information that illegal call centres were calling Britons with individuals posing as employees of British banks and financial institutions.
Police arrested the kingpin of the gang, 26-year-old Anshuman Srivastava, hailing from Rajaji Puram in Lucknow; 21-year-old Pawan Singh of Uttam Nagar in Delhi; 20-year-old Sumit Kumar and Ashu, 23, both residents of Jahangirpuri; and 27-year-old Amit Singh of Rohini's Budh Vihar locality in the national capital after a tip-off on Friday last.
During interrogation, the accused said they had worked in call centres in Delhi and Gurgaon.
"They lost their job due to recession in the call centre business few years ago, like many other young persons.
However, by the time they left, they had learned the tricks of the trade and realised that overseas customers make payments for required services without creating unnecessary hassles," a police official said.
"The gang was operating in the name of 'Wisdom Calling' from the house taken on rent by Srivastava. Police recovered a laptop, four desktop computers and documents along with record of UKASH vouchers from the gang members," said SBS Tyagi, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crime and Railways.
The accused had managed to make around Rs 90 lakh through the fraud in the last one year.
Giving details of their modus operandi, Mr Tyagi said the accused used to lure victims into availing unsecured loans as well as claims of payment protection insurance (PPI).
After the unsuspecting victims agreed to their offer, the accused directed them to transfer 10 per cent of the amount as processing fee for sanctioning the loan or claims of PPI.
"The victims were asked to transfer the money through vouchers or to deposit the sum in the accused's bank accounts. Once the money was deposited, the same was encashed by the accused. The victims, thereafter, were denied the loan on one pretext or the other and in some cases their calls were ignored," Mr Tyagi said.
During the raid, four of the accused were found working on four computer systems. On checking, data of UK residents - names, addresses, email-ids - were found stored in the systems and the accused were found calling them.
The data also contained details of loan amounts, year of availing the loans as also details of bank or financial institutions. It also had details of Britons who had taken loans and paid off the same successfully.
"The gang used to make calls to those UK nationals using 'Eyebeam Audio Only' software on 'Action-VOIP' (Voice Over Internet Protocol), Mr Tyagi said.
"They took advantage of their knowledge of call centre services for the purpose of cheating as they were fully aware about the system of loans, mortgages, insurance in the UK and the USA. Srivastava was the owner of the call centre along with one of his partners. They used to get reliable data from some UK nationals in lieu of Rs 70 to Rs 150 per data, arranged by Srivastava's partner," Mr Tyagi said.
The accused employed persons with prior experience in call centres with a good command over English.
"The gang was in the business of illegal call centre since January 2011 and so far, they have done business of about Rs 90 lakh in a year," Mr Tyagi said.