Monday, 30 January 2017

FBI nabs Hyderabad businessman in call centre scam

By Udumula Sudhakar Reddy

A Hyderabadi connection has emerged in the US money soliciting scam involving Indian call centres, with the arrest of city origin businessman Bhogavalli Narasimha Rao by the FBI in Irving, Texas.

Rao, 50, was arrested on Thursday for engaging in “monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity in connection with an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) impersonation scam.”

According to the US Justice Department, the victims were contacted by individuals claiming to be IRS agents and told of “outstanding warrants for their arrest” and that they would be sent to jail unless they deposited money orders or cash into accounts controlled by Narasimha Rao and other accounts used by co-conspirators.”

Call centre scam: Hyderabadi managed multiple accounts
Tipped by US agencies Indian police detected a call centre operating from Ahmedabad in Gujarat. Northern District of Texas attorney John Parker alleged that Narasimha Rao had defrauded victims, transferred the money to his accounts and wired it to India. He was produced before a magistrate who ordered his detention.

Narasimha Rao used at least two Bank of America accounts, one in the name of Tekdynamics, Inc. and the other in the name of Touchstone Commodities, Inc. The investigation revealed that he controlled additional accounts used in the scam, including a Citibank account in the name of Touchstone Commodities, it said.

It said that from November 2014 to February 2015, 242 cash deposits to the tune of Rs 11.09 crore in Indian currency was deposited in one of the Bank of America accounts and 60 money orders worth Rs 25 lakh into the second one. An amount of `64 lakh was deposited in the Citibank account

The FBI found that immediately after the victims made the deposits, the money was wire-transferred to other accounts that Narasimha Rao controlled, which he either spent or wired them to accounts in other countries, such as India.

Narasimha Rao was listed as the director of Touchstone Commodities, located in Irving, Texas, which he claimed was running an “import-export” business of iron ore, steel and wood chips.

Records showed that he was listed as president of Tekdynamics, a firm claiming to be provider of “technology, outsourcing and consulting needs” with established infrastructure in the US and India.

  • Narasimha Rao was a product of GITAM University, Visakhapatnam, in the 1980s and was the member of GITAM Alumni of North America.
  • The website of Touchstone Commodities which listed Rao as chairman named his India representative as Avutapalli Srinivasa Rao.
  • The website says Srinivasa Rao is an engineer like Narasimha Rao and was in the business of precious stones.

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