Calcutta, Feb. 13: City infotech CEO Sanjay Kedia made over Rs 2 crore a month by selling fake prescriptions to American addicts so they could buy the drugs from US pharmacies, the Narcotic Control Bureau said today.
The head of Saltlec-based Xponse IT Services and Xponse Technologies, arrested on Sunday night, operated his business online and had clients also in Canada and Sweden, officials said.
The 31-year-old IIT Delhi graduate has allegedly been running the racket through 29 websites for the past two years, earning about $500,000 a month from his thousands of mostly American customers.
“This young man’s arrest was a fallout of a year-long effort, Operation Pharma. We started the investigation last year after being tipped off by the US Drug Enforcement Administration,” said Sandeep Mittal, director of NCB’s eastern zone.
“We have come to know that Kedia had opened an account with a Luxembourg bank in a fictitious name and deposited $10 million (about Rs 44 crore). US agencies are in the process of getting it frozen.”
The 29 websites — termed “online pharmacies” by the NCB — were hosted by Kedia’s BPO, Xponse IT, Mittal said.
“They took orders for psychotropic drugs, mainly phentermine, either over toll-free numbers or through the Internet,” he added.
“The customers are people addicted to psychotropic substances — which affect the central nervous system and can change mood and perception — but can’t buy it from a medicine shop because they don’t have a prescription. These clients paid Kedia through credit or debit cards.”
Kedia would then fill in a prescription form mentioning the client’s details — like name, address, body weight and blood pressure — and introducing him as a patient who needed the drug as medication.
“He would then paste the forged signature of a registered US doctor,” Mittal said. “Kedia would fax a printout to a medicine store named by the client and pay it online. The client would collect the drug within a day or two, or have it delivered to him.”
Mittal added that the medicine stores, or the doctors whose signatures Kedia allegedly forged, were unlikely to be involved.
Kedia is believed to have taken over the business from an American drug dealer, Steven Mahana, in 2005. Mahana, who did his dealings face to face, accepted a 49 per cent share to become a partner and provided his customer base to Kedia.
| Sanjay Kedia
NCB officials said they had sealed several of Kedia’s bank accounts in India which together held Rs 1.7 crore.
“We have booked Kedia under three sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, all of which are non-bailable. The minimum jail term is 10 years,” Mittal said.
The official named some of the websites Kedia used, such as deliveredmedicine.com, deliveredphentermine.com and truevaluepharmacy.com.
But he added that Kedia did not want to run his business in India or any other Asian country.
“He barred access to his online pharmacy business to all people who are from Asia,” Mittal said. “He did it because he realised it might get him into trouble.”
Kedia’s lawyer C.K. Jain had said yesterday that his client had merely developed software for a foreign company that ran its business through a website dealing with pharmaceuticals.