Guwahati, Sept 15: In a major crackdown on illegal call centres allegedly involved in cybercrime, including money laundering, three suspected masterminds were arrested and 191 people detained here, a senior police officer said on Friday.
Acting on specific information, the police conducted simultaneous raids at eight places since Thursday night and detained 191 people, including 47 women, all in the age group of 21 to 25, Guwahati Commissioner of Police Diganta Borah told media persons here.
One of the alleged masterminds was picked up from his residence here, while two others fled from the city in a vehicle, but were intercepted by police at Bajali and brought back to the city.
The three masterminds have been identified as Debajyoti Dey, alias David, Rajan Sidana and Dibyam Arora.
The police also seized 164 desktops, 90 laptops, 26 mobile phones and other electronic gadgets.
The illegal call centres, operating for the past two years in the city, were engaged in fraudulent activities and looted money from unsuspecting victims in India and abroad in the guise of providing customer services, anti-virus mechanisms and others, he said.
The employees of these call centres posed as tech support staff, using pop-up advertisements and toll-free numbers, to deceive victims into believing they were contacting legitimate service centres, he said.
Once they gained remote access to victims’ devices, the employees would claim that personal information or bank accounts were compromised and forced victims into making payments via Bitcoin or gift vouchers, Borah said.
These illegal call centres mostly dealt with international clients and had connections in Delhi, Gurgaon, and other locations.
Mostly educated unemployed youth were recruited to these call centres through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and others, following which they were trained for the job.
Most of the detained employees claimed that they were unaware of the illegal nature of their work, while some were motivated by the lure of easy money, the commissioner of police said.
The police operation also revealed that call centres frequently shifted locations to avoid detection, recruiting people from various Indian states, including Delhi, Punjab, Maharashtra, and Haryana.
The raids were conducted at Guwahati’s Bamunimaidam, Borbari, Zoo Road, Rajgarh, Gandhibasti, ABC point and Ganeshguri areas. (PTI)