Indian call center extorted crores from US taxpayers
Following a tip-off, Mumbai Police has unearthed an online fraud after raiding a call center and detained 770 employees for questioning. Later on, 70 of them were arrested and charged with fraud, wrongful impersonation and violating Internet safety law. These scams took place for a little over a year.
On Tuesday night, as the workers started dialing America, some 200 policemen rushed in to cut the lines. There were eight masterminds who came up with the “business model.” The rest were let off with a warning.
The call center employees would send mass text messages: “There is a lawsuit filed in your name regarding tax evasion or tax fraud” and then announce an urgent inquiry to as many as 10,000 American cellphone numbers, said Parag Manere, deputy commissioner of police in Thane, in the western state of Maharashtra.
If recipients called back, the call center employees would introduce themselves as “Christopher or Daniel” and speak with an exact American accent, impersonating as internal revenue service officers (from US) who are responsible for collecting taxes.
They would then warn the victims that the local police or IRS agents would raid their homes within 30 minutes unless they make an immediate payment, Thane police official said. To escape an investigation, many unsuspecting Americans agreed to pay anywhere between 500 and 60,000 dollars.
These call centers cheated nearly 6,500 Americans and collected an estimate of more than 36 million dollars. The owner of one of the companies, reportedly based in the US, allegedly stole information and passed it on. Investigators say one or two of every 100 calls would hit the mark.
The employees, some of them barely out of school or in college, would make calls from a database of numbers leaked from the US and threaten Americans. Their parents say they were trapped into believing they were doing legitimate work.
Computer, laptops and other hardware etc were seized from the raids.