Over 600 fake call center employees in the municipality of Mira Road in Maharashtra, India were detained early last week for suspicion of conducting fraudulent or scam calls to US taxpayers while posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents, according to the Indian Times. More than 70 of the 500 have already been arrested. The Crime Branch of the Thane Police Department conducted a raid late Tuesday night until the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Local police had been keeping tabs on these agents after receiving multiple complaints from Americans about their activities. The Thane police already named five of the nine companies they’re investigating: Iserve BPO Pvt Ltd, Lorex Impex Pvt Ltd, MAC Outsourcing Services, Tech Solutions, and Call-Tech Solutions.
Here’s how the modus operandi go: Impersonating as an IRS official, a call center agent (using an American accent, name, and batch number) calls a target from the US via voice over IP (VoIP), telling them they purportedly owed $4,000, $5,000, or $10,000 in unpaid taxes, which merits some consequences like losing their house, job, or face prison term of at least three months. The small percentage of those who fall for this tactic then find themselves negotiating for fine payments. Once an amount is settled, the call center agent then asks them to pay using international gift cards or iTunes gift cards. Some even ask their targets to use wire services, such as MoneyGram, to send over their payment, while other ask for bank account details.
However agents do it, American taxpayers end up losing money. According to the United States Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), at least 328 victims have reportedly paid $1.4 million of iTunes gift cards to the scammers.
Furthermore, these scammers were able to get data of their targets from groups that sell them illegally by bulk.
Last weekend, the Thane Police has conducted four more rogue call center raids in the Mira Road area. They found out that these four companies have closed shop, suspecting that they might be targeted next as their agents also pose as office of authorities who targets US and UK citizens.
Thane Police are said to investigate companies in Ahmedabad, Noida, and Bengaluru next where more rogue call centers are believed to be running.
We advise readers of this blog who have received unsolicited calls from individuals claiming to be from the IRS to never disclose any of your personal information to them. Instead, visit this IRS reporting Web page and file for a report or call this number, 800-366-4484.