THANE (TIP) — In a major raid, over 500 employees of some call centers were detained & 70 people arrested for allegedly threatening Americans, which also includes Indian Americans, and siphoning off their money in the Mira Road area here, police said Oct. 5.
The raid was carried out by over 200 police personnel, mostly from the Crime Branch, late Oct. 4 and continued in the wee hours on Oct. 5, they said.
According to a report in Mid-day Oct. 6, the alleged mastermind of the tax scam is an Indian American who is “pulling the strings from the U.S.” The report added that a manhunt has been launched and the FBI has reportedly approached the Thane police for details of the case.
The persons operated from call centers in the Mira Road locality, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Thane Rural Police, and posed as officials of the U.S. Tax Department demanding unpaid taxes, police said.
“We will cooperate with any agency approaching us for information. It’s an international racket and involvement of foreign nationals is suspected. An investigation being conducted from all angles,” Parambir Singh, Commissioner of Police, Thane, is quoted as saying in the Mid-day report.
They would call up the U.S. citizens and demand their financial and bank details, failing which they would allegedly threaten them with dire consequences, including legal action.
Those who called back and believed the threats would fork out thousands of dollars to “settle” their case, Mumbai police officer Parag Marere said Oct. 6.
The scam brought in more than $150,000 a day, Marere said without giving a total sum. If the scam netted that amount daily, it would have made almost $55 million in one year.
Some victims were also told to buy gift vouchers from various companies, and hand over the voucher ID numbers which the impostors then used to make purchases, Marere said.
Those arrested so far include several of the alleged ringleaders, as well as people accused of providing equipment and setting up the fake call centers. The criminal charges filed against the suspects include extortion, impersonation and violations of India’s information technology laws.
Indian media reports said 70 percent of the scam’s proceeds were retained by the suspects in India, while the rest was paid to collaborators in the U.S.
Indian news channel NDTV reported that one U.S.-based company allegedly collected the victims’ personal information and passed it to the fake call centers.