Meet Shaggy: The police busted overnight what could possibly be the biggest impersonation call scams in India and detained over 500 people from nine call centres in Mira Road for cheating thousands, primarily foreign nationals, through the fraud. The mastermind was identified as Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy
Modus Operandi: Americans were cheated of $300 million in the IRS call centre scam, busted in October 2016. Call centre employees impersonating US IRS, immigration and federal officials sought payments from victims for non-existent debts. Primary investigations revealed that the database had personal details of thousands of foreign and Indian nationals like their contact numbers, names, addresses and citizenships. Such details were allegedly used to take victims into confidence. Once they convinced their victims of the urgency of the calls say for defaulting on tax or insurance payments - the fraudsters threatened them with legal action, and coaxed or extorted them into revealing their bank account details. As soon as the details were out, the bank accounts were wiped clean
Who were involved: The international racket being run from a Mira Road call centre placed calls to US citizens posing as IRS (Internal Revenue Service) officials, said several of those arrested are college dropouts or unemployed youths, who stayed in the job for the handsome salary. A trainee, a dialer, a trainee caller, an HR official, a floor manager, and an 'executor' together were involved in the whole con. Seven of the call centres operated out of a seven-storey building. The building, Delta, is on Penkar Pada Road in the area, and other call centres operated out of Naya Nagar, around 2 km away
All in the family: Sagar Thakkar aka Shaggy 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. Police believe that even his sister Reema Thakkar was involved in the scam as the cash sent from Ahmedabad to Mumbai through angadia was in her name. She also used to look after the call centre's accounts
The victims: California resident and chartered accountant Tejas Vakil (44) had approached the Thane police, saying he was among those who were cheated by the Mira Road call centre. He had filed a complaint against the conmen with the Tustin police station in California in 2016. The Vakils have been based in the US since 2000. Speaking to mid-day, Tejas said that after reading the mid-day report, he realised that it was same scam he had been cheated in for
Not the first time: Sagar 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
As part of evidence collected, the police listed more than 20 Americans, who were cheated, as witnesses. After the police got details about the victims from the hard disks seized as part of the raids, they sent a bulk message, to all of them, asking them to get in touch with us on the Thane police website. Several did, telling how and of how much they were cheated.
The mastermind behind Shaggy: Thane Crime Branch arrested the ex-boss of Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy, the kingpin of the massive fraud. According to a report 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
A lavish lifestyle and everything posh of the kingpin of the multi-crore extortion racket being run from call centres in Mumbai and Ahmedabad was not restricted to him Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy had gifted a Rs 2.5 crore Audi R8 to his 21-year-old girlfriend on her birthday
Six months after fleeing the country following a massive raid on his fraud call centre set-up at Mira Road, Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy, the kingpin in the multi-crore scam, was finally arrested at the Mumbai airport in April 2017.
How police cracked the case: Crime Branch sleuths posed as job aspirants and surveyed the premises, while another set mingled with the staff at a paan stall to gain inside info. Thane crime branch officials had a look inside the premises, the working atmosphere, the floors, etc and made a note of the number of people working there and where they would escape from in case of a raid. Before the raid, plain-clothed officers also kept a watch on the premises from a distance.
The crime branch officials targeted the food and cigarette stalls outside the call centre during break time. For more than 15 days, they stood there, loudly talking amongst themselves about unemployment and the desperate search for a job. That's how they struck up conversations with the employees, on the pretext of inquiring about vacancies. They warmed up to them and got information and confirmation on the illegality going on inside
The Thane police seized the Audi R8 worth around Rs 3 crore that the kingpin in the bogus call centre scam in Mira Road had purchased from captain of the Indian team in Test cricket, Virat Kohli, for Rs 50 lakh.
A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) official Sohel Daud, assistant legal attache, US Embassy, and attached with the FBI, had a meeting with Parambir Singh, Commissioner of Police, Thane, to get an insight into the investigation so far and to find out the nitty-gritty details about how the fraud took place
After Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy, the kingpin of an international call centre scam was arrested by police in 2017, sources claim that Sagar's parents sold off their bungalow in Ahmedabad for around Rs 2.50 crore and have been absconding since then
Shaggy's sister Reema Thakkar surrendered herself in front of the Thane crime branch on June 21, 2018. According to Thane crime branch officials, she was hiding in Gujarat and kept moving around in the state. Before she went into hiding, Reema had been residing there for 15 years, after getting married to a businessman who is based in Gujarat. She'd helped her brother start his call centre business and was handling accounting-related work of the company for the past year, after her husband faced losses in his business
Three days after her brother Sagar aka Shaggy Thakkar, the mastermind of the fake IRS call centre scam in Mira Road, secured bail, Rima Thakkar surrendered herself in front of the Thane crime branch on June 21, 2018. One of the biggest scams in Mumbai - the Mira Road call centre scam has interesting twists and turns ever since the matter came to light. Here are some major developments in the case