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Local authorities in India have uncovered a massive call center scam where several Americans were conned out of millions of dollars by Indian scammers posing as tax officers.
The scam reportedly duped victims into paying alleged unpaid taxes, according to the Associated Press. As of Thursday, Indian police have arrested seventy people involved in the tax con with hundreds still being questioned, according to Mumbai authorities.
The fake call centers operated in a multi-story Mumbai office building for almost a year, Indian police told the AP. Hundreds of hard disks, servers and other electronic equipment were confiscated from the Mumbai offices in the raids the police conducted this week.
Running for almost a year, the fake call centers sent voice mail messages to potential victims in the U.S., advising them to call back about the back taxes they owed. The Americans who did call back were told to “settle” their tax cases, but ended up being duped out of thousands of dollars.
“They would make threatening calls to honest taxpayers in the U.S., ask them to deposit money through pre-paid cards,” Thane police chief Param Bir Singh told Indian news network NDTV.
Mumbai police officer Parag Marere told AP that the scam brought in more than $150,000 a day, potentially earning them almost $55 million in one year.
“We are questioning those who were involved in the fraud, including those posing as tax investigators,” Marere was quoted as saying.
Many of the 600 individuals, bosses included, who are still under questioning are expected to face criminal charges for extortion, impersonation and violations of the country’s information technology laws, the police said.
According to Indian media reports (via MSN), that the scam also involved U.S.-based collaborators with at least one company in the U.S. implicated by supplying the fake call centers with personal information of those targeted by the scam. Around 70% of the collected money reportedly stayed in India, while the rest was shared outside the country.