Phishing scam: After Thane police keep mum, Solapur cops edge closer to cracking case

Updated: Feb 18, 2020, 08:34 IST | Diwakar Sharma, Shirish Vaktania | Mumbai

Despite Bajaj Finance filing plaint, Thane police mum on fake call centre exposed by mid-day; Solapur cops say they have been probing centre since Nov '19 and are close to cracking the case

A couple of police officers arrived in a white car (pictured) at the SDCPL office at 12.38 pm. Pics/ Rajesh Gupta
A couple of police officers arrived in a white car (pictured) at the SDCPL office at 12.38 pm. Pics/ Rajesh Gupta

After mid-day's in-depth, weeklong investigation into the working of a Thane-based fake call centre Stage Door Communication Private Limited (SDCPL), lending company Bajaj Finance Ltd submitted a complaint to the Wagle Estate police on Monday. While the Thane police appear to be taking their time, the Solapur police have been probing SDCPL for duping a trio of R11.13 lakh and say they are close to making arrests.

During the investigation, mid-day reporter Shirish Vaktania joined SDCPL as a sales employee where he was one of 200 callers who dupe hundreds of people of lakhs every day. The callers offer gullible people, especially farmers, loans at zero per cent interest and take their money in the form of an advance EMI. They made the scam look genuine by offering the loans in the name of Bajaj Finance.

General Counsel of Bajaj Finance Ltd - Bajaj Finserv, Babu Rao said, "My team submitted a complaint letter to the Wagle Estate police and I met Thane's Commissioner of Police (CP) Vivek Phansalkar. He told me they are looking for a complainant duped by the fake call centre. No FIR has been filed so far."

mid-day's calls and messages to Phansalkar went unanswered. Sources at Wagle Estate police said they are verifying the complaint and cannot take suo motu action.

Around 2.05 pm, teams of Thane police and Thane Crime Branch visited the SDCPL office
Around 2.05 pm, teams of Thane police and Thane Crime Branch visited the SDCPL office

Additional CP (West Region) Anil Kumbhare told mid-day, "We don't have any complaint. We are verifying the matter. Our enquiry is going on." While Additional CP (Crime) Pravin Pawar told mid-day that no complainants have turned up.

The complaint under the letterhead of Bajaj Finserv read: "The complainant (Bajaj Finance Ltd) has no policy of asking customers to make advance payments in any bank account. The accused are committing illegal acts with the intent to cheat innocent public and the complainant company. Also, the accused are earning illegally and causing loss to the complaint and the general public."

Bajaj Finserv also asked police to end the fake call centre's operations.

SDCPL was unaware of its operations being exposed until a couple of Thane police officers visited the office at 12.37 pm and a team of police officers visited at 2.05 pm on Monday. Employees were told to go for lunch after the second visit.

Solapur police probes SDCPL

Over a fortnight ago, a team from Sangola police station in Solapur (Rural) visited SDCPL after a local businessman, Somnath Sutar, 34, and his friends Raju Sutar and Mahesh Kamble were duped of Rs 11.13 lakh by fake callers. Sub-Inspector Suresh Nalavade confirmed about the visit to mid-day. One woman and two men were hauled to Solapur in connection to the case.

Few of the police officers from the team that visited SDCP
Few of the police officers from the team that visited SDCPL

"On January 21, 2019, I received a call from the number 8097141963. The caller introduced himself as Sachin Patil from Bajaj Finance, Goregaon East Mumbai. He offered me a loan on zero per cent interest by buying Bharati Axa Elite's 12-year insurance. A Rs 1 lakh insurance policy would get me a Rs 10 lakh loan. The company's representatives would call me regularly and offer a loan," reads Somnath Sutar's FIR which was registered in November, 2019.

"On January 25, a man named Vishal Phalke claiming to be an executive of Bharati Axa Elite Insurance company came to collect a cheque of Rs 83,500. I met him at the ST bus stand where he took my video and sent it to his senior. I too took his photograph in my mobile. Later, an executive Suhas Jagtap said that the policy paper would be sent to Bajaj Finance Company for a mortgage loan against the policy. I was also made to pay online again as they claimed that the payment system has changed. They told me to refer the loan to friends, which I did," Sutar's FIR read further.

Mahesh Kamble, one of three victims from Solapur
Mahesh Kamble, one of three victims from Solapur

Sutar, his friends Raju and Mahesh were collectively duped of Rs 11,13,390 through seven different transactions.

"We have conducted an in-depth investigation and are close to making arrests. We have learnt that the duped money is being withdrawn in Kolkata. Further investigation is on," said inspector Rajesh Gawali of Sangola police.

Rs 11.13l
Amount the Solapur trio was duped of by SDCPL

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