A team of 200 Indian law enforcement personnel raided 9 call centers in the Mira Road area of Thane, near Mumbai, India on Wednesday. Over 500 people were detained for calling US citizens and telling them the IRS was going to initiate action if they didn’t comply with the phone call.
The raid began late Tuesday night and continued into Wednesday morning. More than 70 of the people have been arrested so far. Other reports have said that there were up to 772 people detained in the raids on the 9 call centers.
According to the Indian Express:
The persons operated from call centres in Mira Road locality, which comes under the jurisdiction of Thane Rural Police, and posed as officials of US Tax Department, which is equivalent to the Income Tax Department in India, police said.
They would call up the US citizens and demand their financial and bank details, failing which they would allegedly threaten them with dire consequences, including legal action.
The IRS scam has been widely publicized in the United States, yet there are always people who believe the sound of an unfamiliar voice. IF you didn’t pick up the telephone, the call centers used a recording that sounded relatively official, and warned that if you didn’t return the phone call the IRS was coming to get you. If you did pick up the phone, they used a stern sounding voice threatening to take you to court.
Despite the IRS continually telling people that they didn’t operate by calling and threatening people, estimates are that 450,000 Americans fell victim to the scheme. The fear of being a target of the IRS was apparently stronger than common sense.
As of August, 2014, the IRS had received over 90,000 complaints about the huge scam. The problem with these scams is that they often do not originate in the United States.
“The motive was earning money. They were running an illegal process, posing themselves as officers of the (US) Internal Revenue Service.” Parag Manere, a Deputy Commissioner of Police
The mastermind of this scam is allegedly an Indian-American, according to SiFy Indian news. Some America-based “agents” of the scam allegedly obtained a 30% commission by providing people’s financial information to the scammers.
Another similar operation was recently busted in Ahmedabad. A Pennsylvania man, Sahil Patel, who used call centers in India was sentenced to 14 1/2 year in jail back in 2015.