Three people have been arrested for allegedly duping around 500 people in several states by offering “VIP phone numbers” and pocketing up to Rs 3 crore, the police said on Thursday.
People from Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been duped by the scamsters in the last three years, Jabalpur Superintendent of Police Siddarth Bahuguna told reporters.
The arrested men are Shubham Rai (28), Ashok Tirthani (57) and Dileep Kukreja (44). Another accused Ravi Mishra, a resident of Mumbai, is on the run, Mr Bahuguna.
Jabalpur resident Harjinder Singh had filed a complaint with Gorakhpur police station that Harvinder, his relative, got a text message on February 2 offering to provide a “VIP” or “vanity” phone number, or a number with a customer’s preferred digits, of a prominent telecom service provider for Rs 49,999.
Harvinder then got a call from a person who claimed to be an agent of the telecom company and offered to provide him a “VIP SIM card” for Rs 41,300. The caller also provided details of a bank account for making the payment.
Harvinder transferred the money, but got no SIM card. Investigation found that the money ended up in the bank account of one of the accused, Ashok Tirthani, the police officer said. Tirthani was arrested, and his interrogation led the police to Dileep Kukreja and Shubham Rai. Rai had been earlier arrested in a cheating case in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.
A certain percentage of the amount collected through the scam was allegedly transferred to Ravi Mishra, Rai’s Mumbai-based friend, the officer said. Rai and Mishra had worked together in Mumbai’s Film City between 2007 and 2012.
The accused used some 52 bank accounts to collect money.
The police have seized documents linked to the accounts, seven debit cards, cheque books, Aadhaar cards, eight mobile phones and a two-wheeler from the accused.