Sleuths of private detective agency held for snooping on high-profile clients
The Mumbai police recently stumbled upon a case of invasion of privacy with serious security ramifications and arrested four people with a private detective agency at Bandra (West) in Mumbai for tracking cell phone call details of ‘suspects’ for their high-profile clients. Most of these clients – Mumbai and Delhi-based businessmen and a few Bollywood personalities – wanted the agency to spy on either their spouses or rivals.
Only the government investigating and intelligence agencies have the authority to ask service providers for call details of suspects.
“Invading someone’s privacy is a serious issue and we will make inquiries to find the others involved in the case. Even we can ask for the call records of a person only if he or she has been booked in an offence or is a suspect in a case, and that too after we furnish the case details to the respective service provider,” said DCP Pratap Dighavkar.
The police recovered call records of several VIP numbers from the accused and are currently in the process of getting them verified. An officer said that this is a serious issue as access to call records can be misused by anti-national elements to learn the routine of VIPs.
The police learnt about the detective agency recently when it handled a high-profile client from Bandra.
Assistant police inspector Nitin Patil approached the agency posing as a businessman and asked for the call details of a number after paying Rs 10,000 as advance. The squad arrested the accused after they handed them over to the officer attached with the letterhead of D S Detective Agency. A waiting police team immediately raided the premises and arrested the accused.
The accused would obtain call data of a person using the mobile number of any service provider anywhere in the country with the help of their telecom contacts within 48 hours. They would charge between Rs 25,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh, depending on a client’s net worth.
Police sources said the agency boasted a “huge waiting list”. Call records helped clients identify areas which the “suspect” visited and numbers of persons with whom he or she communicated with. The accused told the police that details of the high-profile clients were with the agency’s owner Govind Shah alias Dinanath Saroj who has since disappeared. The police have launched a manhunt for him. They are also trying to identify employees of mobile service providers who helped the accused.
On its website, the agency claimed to be a licensed private detective agency which offered special services of mobile phone investigation. Strangely, it also stated that several of its agents were police officers. The accused have been booked under Information Technology Act and Indian Telegraph Act.