Mumbai Crime Branch busted a call centre operating out of a premises at Bihar Sharif, Nalanda, and arrested six persons who duped people across the country using COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext. Officials said that the accused had duped at least 210 people. “It could be just the tip of the iceberg,” he added. The accused were planning new methods to dupe people in anticipation of the possible third wave, said a cyber cell officer.
The five accused have been identified as Dharmajay Kumar, Dhananjay Kumar, Shrawan Paswan, Nitish Kumar and Suman Kumar. Their sixth accomplice is a minor.
Crime branch officials, who found that they had circulated their numbers on different social media platforms to dupe people, started their investigation when they received a complaint at the cyber police station in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) where a person was duped after he ordered for Remdesivir on June 16.
The investigation led the crime branch sleuths to an area named Bihar Sharif. They raided the premises and were surprised to find an entire call centre operating and duping people.
These people were involved in duping people for over a year and have become experts in using people's fear or crisis for their own benefit. They used to change their modus operandi to adapt to the situation, said a police officer.
"When there was shortage of Remdesivir, they began duping people by claiming to sell the drug. They also duped people by pretending to sell oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators and so on. There are also incidents in which they have duped people on the pretext of arranging beds in hospitals. Recently, they were getting ready for the third wave and how it will affect children. The same goes for mucormycosis," said Milind Bharambe, joint commissioner of crime branch.
The police have traced 32 bank accounts, in which Rs 60 lakh worth of transactions had taken place and also seized 100 sim cards procured from Kolkata.