Exec’s arrest puts online drug deal blot on BPOs

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the-financial-expressKOLKATA, February 14 2007,

The arrest of Sanjay Kedia is just a tip in the iceberg of online dealing in psychotropic drugs, say investigating agencies.

The arrest of Sanjay Kedia is just a tip in the iceberg of online dealing in psychotropic drugs, say investigating agencies. Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) officials, who arrested the CEO of the Salt Lake-based Xponse IT Services on Monday. They say there are likely to be many other operatives and dimensions involved in this highly sophisticated racket.

Kedia operated from his Salt Lake, Sector-V office, and NCB sleuths say his arrest exposes a thriving, multi-million dollar racket through BPOs.

According to NCB officials, Kedia’s call centre provided foreign clients with psychotropic drugs (see box) through online transactions. The NCB estimates his company’s monthly online transaction at US $ 500,000.

An IIT-Delhi graduate, Kedia had most of his clients based in the United States and Canada, officials said. He allegedly sold psychotropic substances like Phentermine, Buprenorphine and others through various online pharmacies by forging prescription of foreign doctors. One Steve Mahana, based in the US, was Kedia’s chief partner, officials said.

Officials said the illegal distribution, sale and trafficking in psychotropic substances was done through Xponse IT’s Salt Lake office. The company hosted about 29 illegal online pharmacies, officials said; and among the illegal sites were delivermedicine,com, travelpharmacy.com, truevalueprescription.com, phentermine.com, expressphentermine.com and stronghealthpharmacy.com. According to NCB officials, the sites served as front services and the backup was done through a website called lessrx.com.

NCB’s eastern region director Sandeep Mittal said: “It was simple (operation). The company first bombarded US citizens with offers of providing medicines. Addicts to psychotropic drugs in the US and Canada book their drugs online and pay through credit cards. The company then made forged and fake prescriptions of doctors in the client’s locality and sent it to a local pharmacy.

“The drugs were delivered within a day. The company had forged signatures of several American doctors to carry out its operation.”

Mittal said the company also took orders through toll-free international numbers, though Internet users from Asian countries were barred from viewing the site through fireballs to elude security agencies.

Mittal said after receiving a tip-off from US intelligence about the company’s illegal dealings in narcotics, NCB officials, along with central excise, public sector banks and IT experts, conducted simultaneous raids in Kolkata and Delhi on February 1. The US security agencies made parallel raids in American cities, he said.

According to Mittal, the raids unearthed incriminating papers and digital documents from Kedia’s office and his companies, following which NCB sleuths

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