India’s Directorate of Enforcement (ED) stated they will prosecute Kunal Gupta of MET Technologies and eight accomplices for call center scams perpetrated against foreign victims in a press release issued on Saturday.
ED investigation revealed that representatives of the said company targeted gullible residents in the USA, UK, and Australia. Posing as representatives of legitimate businesses, they defrauded individuals through bogus tech support offers, deceptive website sales, and sham loan offers via counterfeit mobile apps, coercing victims into substantial payments…
India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) exercised powers under anti-money laundering laws to search 11 locations associated with Gupta, leading to the closure of a call center in the Bidhannagar district of Kolkata, West Bengal. The revenues generated by Gupta’s alleged crimes were said to total INR1.45bn (USD17.4mn). These revenues were laundered through hotels, nightclubs and cafes owned by Gupta and his relatives and employees. Gupta was arrested in September and subsequently denied bail.
ED has identified assets worth INR673mn (USD8.1mn) they wish to confiscate as proceeds of Gupta’s crimes. These include 35 bank accounts, 14 cars, a resort, a villa and several other commercial and residential properties spread across Bangalore, Goa and Kolkata.
The Met Technologies website boasts of a staff of 1,700 and doing business in 20 countries. Gupta said in interviews that he intends to grow his business into a multinational group listed on India’s stock exchanges. However, concerns about the legitimacy of his company’s methods surfaced in late 2019 when a local government authority in the UK accused Met Technologies of dishonestly charging elderly residents for services that claimed to protect them from unsolicited telemarketing calls. A subsequent two-year investigation by UK regulator Ofcom culminated with Met Technologies receiving a GBP25,000 (USD31,000) fine for transferring phone services to a new provider without the customer’s consent.
Gupta projected the image of a wealthy entrepreneur who appeared on magazine covers, sponsored chess and poker tournaments, and built up a stable of 32 racehorses that competed at courses around India. He also portrayed himself as a philanthropist whose ambition was to generate an “exponential social and economic impact” for thousands of people. Gupta sought industry plaudits and bragged about the awards he had received since leaving his former job at Infosys to found Met Technologies. However, it now appears that Gupta recruited members of his family for top management positions as part of a strategy to maintain secrecy about the sources for much of his company’s profits.
It is good news that law enforcement is finally seeking to prosecute the criminal kingpins who build lucrative empires by scamming vulnerable people over the phone and internet. But now is not the right time to praise their work. Too few cases like these are taken to court. Years are wasted due to bureaucracy and the foot-dragging of officials and politicians who are reluctant to target businessmen who superficially appear to be successful. In the meantime, many more have fallen victim to scams that should have been tackled earlier. It is vital that professionals and the public keep pressuring law enforcement to shut down and prosecute more scam call centers and their owners.