Pimpri: Gang of extortionists busted; their call centre in Kolkata dismantled; valuables worth Rs 5 lakh seized

Pimpri: Six people have been arrested for running an extortion racket by morphing victims’ photos. They had a call centre in Kolkata in West Bengal and were uploading fake mobile numbers of call girls on the internet and demanding extortion from victims online.

The joint action has been taken by the Anti-Extortion Squad of the Crime Branch of the Pimpri Chinchwad Police and an investigation team of the Dighi Police Station. Valuables worth Rs 4.84 lakh have been recovered from the arrested accused.

The arrested accused have been identified as Surajkumar Jagdish singh (27), Navinkumar Mahesh Ram (23), Sagar Mahendra Ram (23), Murli Hiralal Kewat (24), Amarkumar Rajendra Ram (19), Dhirankumar Rajkumar Pande (25), all residents of Kolkata, hailing from Jharkhand.

Saurabh Sharad Virkar lodged a complaint at the Dighi Police Station in this regard.

The accused morphed the WhatsApp DP of the complainant’s cousin Kiran Namdev Datir (35), a resident of Dudulgaon. They sent the morphed photo to him on WhatsApp. They blackmailed him and extorted Rs 12,000 from him. They called him up from various numbers and demanded Rs 51 lakh. They threatened him that if he did not give them the money, they would post his photo online and defame him. Datir got fed up with their torture and hanged himself to death at his home on May 15. The Dighi Police registered a case of abetting of suicide.

Since it was a serious crime, Commissioner of Police (CP) Vinay Kumar Choubey instructed his subordinates to arrest the accused. The Anti-Extortion Squad and the Dighi Police were simultaneously investigating the case and confirmed the accused by technical analysis of their mobile numbers. Their team left for Kolkata on June 7 to search for the accused.

They confirmed that the accused lived under the jurisdiction of the Nager Bazar Police Station. They raided a call centre at Naya Patti Road, Durgabatti Colony and arrested six people. The police seized 15 smartphones, 7 voice change mobile phones, 40 SIM cards, 14 payment debit cards, eight Aadhaar cards-PAN cards, eight notebooks totally valued at Rs 4.84 lakh.

The modus operandi of the gang

The accused used to open a fake Gmail account by purchasing a new SIM card. They used to upload fake mobile numbers of call girls from various cities across the country. After receiving a call from a client, they would ask them to deposit money in their bank accounts. After obtaining the victim’s number, they would talk to them in a woman’s voice through voice-change mobile. They would then download photos from their mobiles and morph them and upload on social media. Later, they would frequently call him and demand a ransom. To avoid any police complaint, they would demand a small amount in thousands.

The operation was conducted under the guidance of Vinay Kumar Choubey, Addl CP Vasant Pardeshi, DCP Sandeep Doiphode, DCP Dr Shivaji Pawar, ACP Dr Vishal Hire, ACP Dr Sachin Hire, Sr PI Vijay Dhamal and Sr PI Santosh Patil. The squad comprising API Nitin Ambhore, policeman Kishor Kamble, PSI Sunil Bhadane, policemen Sunil Kangude and Pradeep Godambe took the action.

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