More than 120 people arrested as India busts fake call centre duping Americans

  • The bogus centre outside Delhi makes up to US$50,000 daily through its scams
PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 10:17pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 December, 2018, 1:49am

Indian police on Friday arrested 126 people working for a allegedly fake call centre making up to US$50,000 a day by duping Americans, officials said.

India became the global call centre capital in the early 2000s as foreign firms, drawn by an educated and cheaper English-speaking workforce, farmed out jobs answering customer phone enquiries.

The suspects arrested in Noida outside Delhi would tell Americans there was a problem with their Social Security numbers and solicit money to fix it, police said.

Another scam was telling people they had committed tax offences and that they had to pay to settle, said Noida police officer Ajay Pal Sharma.

Many responded to the call and fell for their trap
Police officer Ajay Pal Sharma.

“Your warrant is on my desk and if this issue is not resolved we will have to freeze your account and put you behind the bars,” one caller is heard to say in a recording.

In Indian-accented English, he says that the man can either fight the United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in court and face a US$75,000 fine as a “tax defrauder” or pay immediately an “out-of-court settlement”.

“Many responded to the call and fell for their trap,” Sharma said.

The local authorities have also contacted the FBI and shared details of the case.

The call centre had been in operation for three years. Around 300 computers were seized.

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Mumbai police in October 2016 detained more than 770 people suspected of defrauding Americans by impersonating IRS agents and demanding payments.

The US Justice Department subsequently charged 61 people for alleged involvement in India-based schemes that defrauded nearly 15,000 Americans.

Later in April 2017, the suspected mastermind of the racket, 24-year-old Sagar Thakkar, who was making more than US$155,000 a day at the height of the scam, was arrested.