An American national of Indian origin is suspected to be the kingpin of an international phone scam cartel that the US government says has swindled over $26.5 million since October 2013.
While warning citizens of the “phone scam” that saw an estimated 5,000 people collectively losing the above-mentioned amount by January this year, the website of US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has classified the fraud under the annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams in 2016.
Sources here refused to disclose the identity or the location of the mastermind apprehending his possible escape, but claimed the relevant information on his whereabouts has been shared with authorities in the US to facilitate his arrest.
“Our investigation is on,” Thane police commissioner Paramveer Singh. “We will disclose names at the relevant time.”
The sources claimed that the network is spread country-wide across cities, including Mumbai. “As per our information, at least 15 more call centres in and around Mumbai are in this business,” said a senior officer from Thane police, who is privy to the investigation.
So far, the police have busted seven such call centres in Mira Road from where intimidating calls were made by staffers impersonating IRS officials to tax payers (and evaders) in the US into making payments. Singh said the call centres were opened at varying times in the past one year.
- Sources said the employees would pose as IRS officials to bully loan defaulters into making payments
- Victims would be asked to submit their bank details, using which the callers would hack into their accounts and clear the savings Scammers were trained to converse with the defaulters in American accent
- Cheats used special software to mask the original number they were calling from Police said software ensured that the receivers saw a US number on their phones
- Cops are probing the role of US-based agents, who earned 30% commission per victim while their counterparts in Mira Road got a plump 70%
- Sources in police said the racket may be operational over a year and arond 6500 were duped to over 500 crore