The US on Thursday commended India for helping it in unearthing a multi-million dollars transnational scam originating from India-based call centres that cheated thousands of American citizens into paying fictitious debts.
“We want to commend the Indians for having done that because we think it’s important that they come in addition to our enforcement efforts, that they engage in enforcement efforts and they have the people there in India and we have do to the extradition process,” assistant attorney general Leslie R Caldwell told reporters here.
Caldwell accompanied by a battery of enforcement officials and prosecutors announced indictment of 61 individuals and entities, including 31 from India.
Twenty of these individuals were arrested in the US, while 31 of these individuals and five call centres were charged for their alleged involvement in the scam. An additional US-based defendant is in the custody of immigration authorities.
However, these arrested and indictment are not part of the 70 arrests made by India from call centers in Mumbai recently, Caldwell said as she praised the Indian authorities for prompt and effective actions in this regard.
“That’s a different scheme. This is a different one,” she said when asked about the recent arrests in Mumbai.
The US government is approaching India for their arrest and finally extradition, she said.
“These crimes took place in the US and under our laws, we have jurisdiction over fraud that occurs in the US, whether the perpetrators are inside or outside the US. These people are calling the US, taking money from people in the US, engaged in various financial transactions in the US to get that money back to the scammers. All that happens in India is the calls in the bulk of the activity is in the US,” she argued.
John Roth, Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, said while the call centre schemes are extensive, many of them target the US, but not all of them.
“Because of the arrests in India a few weeks ago, and I think because of the publicity, we have seen a drop off in the success rate of these scams. It is important to know the US is looking and watching them and they could, if they are going to engage in that activity, they could sit in jail in the United States,” Roth warned.
According to US officials, the money scammed unlikely went out of the US, but those behind this gained access to the money through “hawala” racket.
“The money in this case did not leave the US,” a US official said.