While the Mira Road call centre scam is shocking in itself, the story of its kingpin, Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy, is equally intriguing. Here’s what we know about him so far.
Simple to Stylish
Thakkar originally hails from Vasai, and did his schooling in Mumbai until Std VI, when he moved to Ahmedabad, where he went on to complete his graduation. Investigations have revealed that just a few years ago, he used to live in a one-room flat at Nyandeshwar Apartments, Vastrapur. However, he quickly became a multi-millionaire and moved into a more posh residence. He then used his high-flying life to impress his friends and persuade them to work for him.
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All of 24 years old, Sagar was young but wise enough to know that it is family and friends that make a rich life. It was with their help that he raked in crores through the call centre scam that was recently busted at Mira Road. Thakkar managed to tempt his friends to work for the call centre scam by luring them with the high life — luxury cars, 5-star hotels and dreams of earning in crores. Instead, their life has hit rock bottom ever since the police busted the racket on a week ago. Thakkar’s own sister, Reema is now wanted for her role in handling the accounts of the illegal company based out of Ahmedabad.
Sagar had gifted a Rs 2.5 crore Audi R8 to his 21-year-old girlfriend on her birthday. According to officers, Sagar, who owns numerous high-end cars, was the first to buy it in Ahmedabad. Cops said they have no clue on his girlfriend’s whereabouts and have been searching for her to recover the car. The police said some of his arrested school friends provided that piece of information. According to them, Sagar often talked about this gift with them. “After he moved to Ahmedabad, Sagar started living with his sister Reema and was idling away time. The scam started after he came in contact with the mastermind based in the US, who provided him with all the crucial data,” added an officer. Sources also revealed that Sagar has a huge business in Dubai that he has set up with his earnings from the extortion racket.
Shaggy’s shady past
Sagar, who is on the run, was earlier involved in a medical fraud, extorting money from Indians who used to spend high amounts monthly on medicines. Sources from the investigation agencies said the medical racket was being run from Bhavnagar in Gujarat in 2012, but it was stopped as soon as it popped up on the police radar. The Thane police have found that Sagar, and his accomplices Ali, Tapesh, Jimmy and Akhilesh Singh were the key players. “The five were running the medical racket. They had managed to procure data of people buying medicines from chemist shops across the India. They specifically targeted those spending more than Rs 5,000 a month,” said an officer.
How it worked
Officers said they would call up a customer and say that s/he had been selected for a discount scheme for being a regular at the particular medical shop. The person was told that s/he would be given a discount of 30 per cent on his/her annual medicine purchase but s/he would have to deposit some amount first in a bank account. The accused would then give the customer details of an account and ask him/her to make the transfer via netbanking. “In this manner they cheated a lot of people. The five ran this racket with the help of their boss, a Bhavnagar resident; he was the one they reported to. We are not yet certain of his identity and are checking to see if the same person was involved in the call centre racket too,” said the officer.
And the mastermind behind the kingpin…
Jagdish Kanani (35), who was nabbed from Borivli, had launched a bogus call centre in Ahmedabad in 2010. According to cops, it was Kanani trained Thakkar as far as technology and approaching Americans is concerned. The police further informed that Thakkar actually moved to Mumbai following a dispute with Kanani, and this is when he started his own con call centre in Mira Road.
Kanani’s staffers would contact victims in the US claiming to be representatives of companies that offered short-term loans, called ‘payday loans’ in the US. The callers would identify themselves as attorneys for the loan companies and obtained credit card information, dates of birth, confidential telephone numbers and other personal information, which they would use to withdraw money from the victims’ account. In some cases, there are complaints of these people threatening the victims with blackmailing.