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Lid off BPO can of worms
- Call centre accuses rival, ex-employee of data theft

Chandigarh, Oct. 8: A new BPO data theft row threatens to dent Indian call centres’ usual defence that they try their best to stop errant employees from carrying out fraud.

Unlike the finger-pointing from western countries that keep losing jobs outsourced to India, the latest allegation comes from within the Indian BPO industry.

And in contrast to the Channel 4 expose on data sale by an India-wide network of middlemen, it’s a call-centre company that stands accused.

Acme Telepower Ltd has complained to police that a business rival, Lambda Eastern Telecommunication, has used an outgoing Acme employee to filch the company’s password, data and software for a competitive edge in bagging contracts.

“It (Acme) claims one of its ex-employees, now attached to Lambda, caused it losses of crores of rupees by stealing its data and software,” inspector-general Mohinder Lal said over the phone from Gurgaon.

The Acme senior manager (research and development), Pankaj Kumar Jain, has alleged that former employee Sachidanand Patnaik has, with help from two Lambda staffers, transferred the details of some of Acme’s projects as well as software, code and passwords through email, the police said.

Jain also accused the trio of changing or damaging Acme’s software, codes and passwords to help Lambda bag a huge contract from a mobile firm.

“We have registered an FIR and are looking into the matter very seriously as it can have widespread ramifications for the IT industry in the country,” Lal said.

The police are preparing to question Patnaik and his two alleged accomplices. “Once we get to know the modus operandi, we will question those named by the complainant,” deputy superintendent (headquarters) Narendra Singh Ahlawat said. The police have sought Nasscom’s help to solve the case.

“Cracking the case will take some time. We have just received the complaint. It is not easy to solve IT-related cases,” Lal said.

The first information report has been filed under the sections for theft, breach of trust, cheating and abetment under the Indian Penal Code as well as some sections of the information technology act.

Lambda general manager Rakesh Prakash denied the allegations. “The competition among IT companies has become very intense. Acme seems upset at failing to bag contracts,” he said.

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