SCARS™ Insight: Inside India’s Scam Call Centers

Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team

SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS.™ Insight: Inside India’s ScamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. Call Centers

Indian Based Scammers are beginning to be the world’s greatest danger in online fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim..

The Indians – who in many cases were trained by ex-patriot Nigerians have organized to an extraordinary extent, and are converting legitimate call centers through India into Scamming Center.

These organized crime businesses are going so far as to align themselves with local police, contributing to civic activities, and on the outside appear to be legitimate outsourcing centers. Some even maintain a “front office” staff doing honest outsourcing work while the “boiler room” in the back does the scamming.

The following is an excellent article from our archives that fully explores what is going on in India even today:


Source: Reuters.com – Authors: Rajendra Jadhav, Euan Rocha, Rahul Bhatia

MUMBAI INDIA – In late September (2016), a woman in National City, California, received a voice message on her phone saying she was in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service (IRSIRS The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the revenue & tax service of the United States federal government responsible for collecting taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code (the main body of federal statutory tax law.) It is part of the Department of the Treasury and led by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, who is appointed to a five-year term by the President of the United States. The duties of the IRS include providing tax assistance to taxpayers; pursuing and resolving instances of erroneous or fraudulent tax filings; and overseeing various benefits programs. Visit www.IRS.gov to learn more.) over “tax evasion or tax fraud”.

Panicking, she rang the number and told a man who said he was from the IRS: “I can pay $500,” half the sum demanded. “I could do a payment plan. I just can’t pay all of it at once.”

“Ma’am, you can pay $500 today itself. You can do that?” the man asked, adding that lawyers would look at her accounts and work out a monthly payment plan, but she had to pay half now.

In transcripts of the conversation that investigators shared with Reuters, the man told her to keep the phone line open and drive to a nearby grocery store, where she bought $500 worth of iTunes gift cards and gave the ‘agent’ the redemption codes.

She had just been scammed – one of at least 15,000 people the U.S. Justice Department says lost more than $300 million in an “enormous and complex fraud” running since 2013. The department last month brought grand jury charges against 56 people in India and the United States for “telefraud” scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. run from fake call centers in India.

[SCARS NOTE: these are based upon reported scams, not real levels]

Investigators have arrested 20 people in the United States, and Indian authorities have made 75 arrests following October raids (2017) on three premises in the Thane suburb of Mumbai. Charges include conspiracy to commit identity theftIdentity Theft Identity theft is when someone uses another person's personal identifying information, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. In both the U.K. and the United States it is the theft of personally identifiable information. Identity theft deliberately uses someone else's identity as a method to gain financial advantages or obtain credit and other benefits, and perhaps to cause other person's loss. The person whose identity has been stolen may suffer adverse consequences, especially if they are falsely held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. Personally identifiable information generally includes a person's name, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, bank account or credit card numbers, PINs, electronic signatures, fingerprints, passwords, or any other information that can be used to access a person's financial resources., impersonationImpersonation An impersonator is someone who imitates or copies the behavior or actions of another. There are many reasons for impersonating someone, such as: part of a criminal act such as identity theft, online impersonation scam, or other fraud. This is usually where the criminal is trying to assume the identity of another, in order to commit fraud, such as accessing confidential information or to gain property not belonging to them. Also known as social engineering and impostors. of an officer of the United States, wire fraud and money launderingMoney laundering Money laundering is the illegal process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions. Money laundering can be done through various mediums, leveraging a variety of payment vehicles, people and institutions..

Indian police say they are looking for Sagar Thakkar, a man in his early 30s also known as Shaggy, who they believe masterminded the scam. Thakkar was also among those named by the U.S. Department of Justice. Reuters was unable to contact Thakkar for comment; he is not known to have a lawyer, and police believe he fled to Dubai last month.

[For More About This: https://www.ndtv.com/noida-news/fake-call-centre-in-noida-made-50-000-a-day-duping-us-citizens-1967306]

“We are trying to complete the procedure to issue a red corner notice for Thakkar,” Parag Manere, a deputy commissioner at Thane police, told Reuters, referring to an Interpol arrest warrant.

Police said Thakkar led a lavish lifestyle, frequenting 5-star hotels and driving expensive cars with proceeds from the scam. He gave one, a 25 million rupee ($365,000) Audi R8, to his girlfriend. “We have seized an Audi car, and are trying to find other assets of Thakkar,” Manere said.

The FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud., which [was] involved in the investigations, declined to comment. The Department of Justice did not respond to requests for comment for this article. At a news conference last month (2016), Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said the U.S. would seek the extradition of suspects in India, and warned others engaged in similar schemes they could face jail terms.

In interviews before the U.S. charges were filed, police, suspects, and call center workers in India told Reuters how the scam was run.

Training materials and taped conversations, which investigators believe were made by call center instructors for training purposes, shed some light on an operation aimed to exploit the aged and gullible.

“TAUGHT TO BE TOUGH”

“The revenue was unpredictable. Some days were good, some were bad,” Haider Ali Ayub Mansuri, who said he managed operations at one fake call center, told Reuters as he was returned to jail in India last month (2016) after a court extended his custody. He is among the 75 arrested by Indian police.

“On a good day, we extracted as much as $20,000 from a single U.S. citizen,” he said.

In India, the sheer scale of the operation surprised many.

For months, hundreds of young men and women worked nights at several call centers in Thane. Callers posed as IRS officers and threatened their victims, often newly-arrived immigrants and the elderly, into paying fictitious tax penalties electronically – sometimes by buying gift cards and turning over the redemption codes, Indian investigators said.

“They used to blast out pre-recorded messages to thousands of citizens who were asked to call back. When they called back, there was a center just like this,” said Manere at Thane police.

Acting on a tip-off, police raided premises in early October (2016) as call center workers settled in for their shift. The buildings housed seven call centers, and over a few days more than 700 people were detained. Most have since been released, but told not to leave the city.

Callers bullied their victims with the threat of arrest, jail, seized homes and confiscated passports.

“There was one instance where an old lady was crying,” because she didn’t have the money to pay, said a former call center worker who spoke only on condition of anonymity. “But we kept insisting on the money. We were taught to be tough,” he told Reuters.

On a follow-up raid in Ahmedabad, 500 kms (310 miles) north of Mumbai, police uncovered what they believe was “a nerve center for these centers,” said Manere. “A lot of money has been transacted. It’s been going on for a few years.”

The police raids found little in the way of documentation, beyond some training materials. Another former worker said this was likely because call center managers stopped employees from bringing pens and phones to work.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm the accounts provided by call center workers.

WEEKLY INCENTIVES

Another former worker, an economics graduate, told Reuters she took a job without knowing what the center did. The 12,000 rupee ($180) monthly salary was well below the going rate for a graduate, she said, but it was a job, and “people aren’t hiring.”

She said several of her colleagues looked as though they had just left high school.

Her first week was spent in training with floor managers. While callers spoke to their victims, she said dozens of trainees squeezed in around the room, and had to memorize pages of dialogue for use on calls.

Another former employee said his instructors told him his work was illegal, but there was “nothing to worry about.”

Callers made “fast money,” another former caller told Reuters. In comments confirmed by investigating officer Mukund Hatote, the worker said: “For every dollar you brought in, you were given two rupees (around three U.S. cents).”

People wanted to leave rather than be involved in something they suspected was illegal, he said, but carried on because managers offered weekly incentives, such as cash or gadgets, for meeting their targets.


For Every One Shut Down

For every Indian Scam Center shut down, there are at least 400 more operating.

The Indian police or poorly equiped to deal with the simple sophistication of these operators. With the rise of the Pandemic, these senters have moved back into their known business models – we are seeing a vast increase in IRS, Police Warrant, and Social Security scams originating from India.

You can never be too careful, but the easiest rull to follow is that if you get a call about these issues, it is always going to be a scam. PERIOD!

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TAGS: SCARS, Important Article, Information About Scams, Anti-Scam, Scams, Scammers, Fraudsters, Cybercrime, Crybercriminals, Romance Scams, Scam Victims, IRS scams, Indian Scammers, Indian Scam Call Centers, Outsourcing Scams, iTunes gift cards, Thane Call Center, Ahmedabad, Sagar Thakkar, telefraud

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Society of Citizens Against Relationship ScamsSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Inc.
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FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?

It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.

Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:

  1. Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
  2. U.S. State Police (if you live in the U.S.) – they will take the matter more seriously and provide you with more help than local police
  3. Your National Police or FBI « www.IC3.gov »
  4. The SCARS|CDN™ Cybercriminal Data Network – Worldwide Reporting Network on « www.Anyscam.com »

This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.


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To learn more about SCARS visit « www.AgainstScams.org »

Please be sure to report all scammers
on « www.Anyscam.com »

 

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