New Delhi: A Delhi court has dismissed the bail plea of a man accused of cheating around Rs 157 crore from a number of people in various countries, including the USA, through alleged fraud calls from call-centres located in India.
The CBI has claimed the accused posed as officials from organisations such as Indian Revenue Services, USA immigration department and banking and financial institutions.
These callers coerced the victims to pay fees, fines or taxes through various means and also compelled them to disclose their sensitive bank account details and credentials, the central probe agency claimed.
Special Judge Ashwani Kumar Sarpal denied the relief to accused Sanket Bhadresh Modi in an order passed on August 25, noting he did not join investigations on three dates despite receipt of notices and once made false excuse to avoid investigation.
The accused was the director of a company, S M Technomine Pvt Ltd, which is also an accused in the case. The judge further noted that the accused did not cooperate in investigation by not providing passwords for opening of emails, Bitcoin wallets etc, and pressured and threatened his employees not to disclose anything to the CBI.
The judge further said there was a “great possibility” of tampering with evidence, especially digital evidence, if the accused was released from custody.
The court also observed that during investigation, various complainants have come forward who have given specific details and information about how and in which manner offence was committed with them.
The involvement of the accused in using Bitcoin Wallets and iCloud Account was under investigation because he did not provided the passwords, the court noted.
After the opening of these accounts, emails etc, more recovery will take place regarding the fake foreign bank accounts also which will give more clarity about the proof of money trail, it noted.
“The release of the accused at this stage will create hindrance in the investigation and tampering of the evidence will be possible,” the judge said.
The CBI had lodged the case under various sections, including 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 170 (personating a public servant), 384 (extortion), 420 (cheating), 503 (criminal intimidation) of IPC and the relevant sections of Information Technology Act.
If convicted, the accused may get a maximum punishment of seven years in jail.
According to the prosecution, a company, E-Sampark Softech Pvt Ltd, also an accused in the case, forwarded millions of scam calls to the USA from different fraud call centers in India through directly or through VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).
“The fraud callers operating from call centers impersonated government officials such as IRS, immigration officers of USA or falsely associated themselves with banking and financial institutions.
“These fraud callers coerced the victims to pay fee, fine or taxes through various means and also compelled them to disclose their sensitive bank account details and their credentials and thus, were involved in cheating and defrauding persons residing in various foreign countries including USA,” the CBI claimed. It claimed that approximately $ 20 million (around Rs 157 crore) amount was gained by the accused persons in conspiracy with each other from various victims of USA through fraud calls. The present accused and his company was a part of conspiracy, it added.
In one specific instance, the prosecution claimed that the accused cheated a US resident, Greg Haberman, to the tune of $ 23,000 by calling him in March 2017 about his alleged qualification for $ 60,000 grant, the CBI claimed.
Haberman paid $ 23,000 to the scammers via iTunes gift cards and Western Union wire transfers, it said.
Various US citizens were threatened by such callers in the name of probable arrest, launching of criminal case against them, imposition of penalty or fine with seizure of their properties etc., the prosecution claimed, adding that the racket was going on since 2015.