Call centre scam: Kingpin fled to Gulf during police raid

When the teams of Crime Branch of Thane Police were busy in raids at fake call centre in connection with the call centre scam, its mastermind Sagar alias Shaggy Thakkar was on his way to flee the country in early hours of October 5, officials said. Crime branch teams raided seven call centres at Mira Road in adjoining Thane district, in the multi-crore scam involving cheating of US citizens by posing as officials of US Tax Department.

Police raids were conducted on the night of October 4-5. About 70 directors and key persons of these call centres were arrested and 700 employees were detained.

During the interrogation of arrested directors, police got the name of Sagar alias Shaggy. However, by that time, Shaggy had left the country on October 5 before police could catch him. Police issued a LOC (Look Out Circular) against Shaggy on October 7, two days after his escape, officials said. He is suspected to have fled to Dubai.

As the investigation started, a key accused and Shaggy’s elder sister, Reema, fled the country from Delhi on October 8. Police are now trying to get information from immigration authorities about how both the key accused fled the country. Police suspect that Shaggy and his sister have massive amount collected by cheating US nationals, in their personal accounts.

Shaggy led a lavish lifestyle and was accompanied by around a dozen bouncers, sources said. He was a regular at posh late night parties in Mumbai and was also fond of high-end cars. Investigators say Shaggy began working at the age of 16 with his mentor Jagdish Kanani, who had worked in the call centres in abroad.

Kanani trained him to cheat US citizens by starting fake call centres, they said. Meanwhile, investigators on Thursday told a court in Thane that they have identified transactions worth Rs 25-30 crore in the call centre scam till now and that it will take a long time for them to arrive at the actual figure given the magnitude of the scandal.