Pune | Man’s suicide after sextortion calls: Call centre busted in West Bengal, six arrested

THE PIMPRI Chinchwad police have busted a call centre in West Bengal and arrested six persons operating it in connection with their probe into the suicide of a 35-year-old technician in the city on May 15. He had committed suicide due to sextortion calls demanding Rs 51 lakh. The police probe suggests that the call centre may have targeted more victims from Pune in a similar manner.

The victim, who worked as a technician with a firm in the Swargate area, was found dead hanging at his residence in Dighi police station area on May 15. Police had found two suicide notes in the house.

In these suicide notes, the victim had said that his Facebook account had been hacked and had also mentioned some mobile phone numbers from which he got the blackmailing and threatening calls. He had stated in the suicide note that blackmailers had morphed his WhatsApp profile picture into obscene images and were constantly calling him from different mobile phone numbers for money. They initially demanded Rs 2,000, then Rs 10,000 and later they started asking for Rs 51 lakh and threatened to circulate his images otherwise. Following threats, the victim transferred Rs 12,000 to the cyber criminals.

In a joint investigation by the Dighi police station and the Anti Extortion Cell of Pimpri Chinchwad police, the cops zeroed in on some people who were operating from West Bengal. “A raid was conducted in Durgabati Colony area of Kolkata on June 7 where suspects were running a call centre through which they were defrauding people online. We arrested six suspects who were running this racket. They were using fake email addresses and voice altering devices to trap victims and then blackmail them by way of sextortion in different ways,” said an officer.

The arrested suspects have been identified as Surajkumar Singh (27), Navinkumar Ram (23), Sagar Ram (23), Murli Kevat (24), Amarkumar Ram (19) and Dheerankumar Pande (25). Police have seized 15 mobile phones, eight voice alteration devices, 40 SIM cards, debit cards of over two dozen bank accounts among other items including cash.

All the accused were produced before a court in Pune and have been remanded to police custody. “We have reasons to believe that many people in Pune have been cheated by the same gang through sextortion calls. We appeal to people to approach us if they have been victimised through similar modus operandi,” said an officer.