3 ‘Australian tax officials’ who conned NRI actress held

New Delhi, Sep 19 (IANS)
Three men who defrauded NRI actress Isha Sharvani and many other Australian residents of crores of rupees by pretending to be tax officials have been arrested as Delhi Police’s Cyber Crime Unit busted their fake call centre here, police said on Thursday.
The matter came to light when the actress, who currently lives in Perth, complained to the Delhi Police about being cheated. Investigations so far by the cyber crime officials have found that, the gang, comprising of Puneet Chadha, 34, Bhanuj Beri, 24, and Rishabh Khanna, 23, have purportedly cheated over 100 Australian residents of crores of rupees.
DCP, Cyber Crime Unit, Anyesh Rai told IANS that the actress had told them, over the telephone, that a few days back, she had received a call from an Australian number seeming to be from capital Canberra. The caller, identifying himself as an Australian Income Tax officer, told her that an arrest warrant had been issued against her in a taxation matter and that if she did not deposit the penalty amount within the stipulated time, she would be arrested.
On hearing this, Isha got worried and sensing this, the caller pressed home his advantage and managed to secure her bank account details, he added.
The DCP said that subsequently, Isha got a call from the number of her Australian accountant and was told that they had made an inadvertent error in her accounts and of this was not rectified fast, she was liable to be arrested.
A worried Isha kept talking to them for nearly two and a half hours as she looked for a way out of her predicament. Now understanding that Isha was caught fast in the net, the cheating gang managed to persuade her to transfer Australian $5,700 (approx Rs 3 lakh) penalty into an Indian bank account.
To make sure that the actress did not get suspicious at being made to transfer the money into an Indian bank account, the gang members told her that the Australian authorities had opened an office in India to collect taxes and penalties and this was its account, the DCP said.
But the gang was not yet done with her.
Some days later, Isha got another call telling her that some money in her account was of suspicious nature and seemed to meant to support terrorist activities.
However, this made the actress smell something fishy about the whole matter and she approached the Australian police, who told her that she had become victim of cyber-criminals. Isha then contacted the Delhi Police.
The Cyber Crime Unit began its investigations and busted the fake call centre, being run from Vikaspuri area of west Delhi. They were using software that made calls they made seem to originate from Australian numbers and the call centre chief was the mastermind and had called up Isha as the “Australian tax official”. The probe is still on and police are hopeful of further disclosures.
Giving further details of the three arrested criminals, the DCP said Chaddha is an MBA, Beri, a B.Com and Khanna a final year MBA student.

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