Mumbai, Sep 2 (IANS): A member of a racket by which many US and Canadian citizens were cheated of millions of dollars by gang members posing as tax or immigration officials has been arrested by the Mumbai Police, an official said on Wednesday.
Nishikant S. Shirsikar, 30, was arrested from Malad suburb on August 29, by a crack team of the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) sleuths lying in wait for him.
They seized Rs 5 lakh in cash and gold biscuits worth Rs 10 lakh besides a small quantity of ganja (cannabis) and ganja-filled cigarettes from Shirsikar.
An offence was registered with Bangurnagar Police Station, and he was sent to police custody for three days till September 1, and this was further extended to September 4.
During his custodial interrogation, Shirsikar revealed an international racket operated from different Indian cities through certain call centres and from the homes of the operatives.
They had targeted and scared hundreds of citizens in the USA and Canada, impersonating (US) Internal Revenue Service or US Citizen and Immigration Service officials, using information from data brokers and other sources.
"Posing as officials, these racketeers targeted people in US and Canada and threatened them with arrest, imprisonment, penalties or deportation if they did not pay the alleged money owed to the government," said CIU officer.
Those who fell for the ruse and agreed to pay up, were instructed how to make the payments, including by purchasing stored value cards or wire transfers.
Based on information obtained in Shirsikar's second round of interrogation, the CIU seized Rs 35 lakh and 200 gms of gold biscuits from his lockers in Axis Bank in Malad west, besides a two-wheeler which is suspected to be stolen.
Further investigations are underway with Shirsikar to unravel the tentacles of the entire operation, his accomplices operating in Mumbai and other parts of India, and the number of victims trapped by them in the huge scam, said the official.