A major scam was unearthed recently in Mira Road where call centres are believed to have scammed citizens from the US out of Rs 500 crores in the last year. The three call centres said to be involved have collectively pocketed Rs 1-1.5 crores daily. Authorities swept down and arrested 70 people as well as slapped showcause notices on 630 other employees.
How it was done:
The illegal call center used VoIP to call US citizens. The callers identified themselves as employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which is equivalent to the Indian Tax Department. Using a made up, but perfect American accent, the caller would tell victims that they have defaulted on their taxes and would have to pay up immediately or face arrest.
Callers would first demand anywhere between ten and twenty thousand dollars which they would negotiate and eventually settle with 5000-3000 dollars. The payments were to be made using pre-loaded cards. If they couldn’t get through the victim, they would even leave voice mails declaring the person a defaulter and threatening him.
How they got the money:
The victims were asked to share a 16 digit code of a pre loaded cash card with the call centre employee who debited the card. The money debited from the cash card was then redeemed by the fraudster through online payment modes.
How they targeted victims:
Over the Dark Web, hackers sold US citizens details in bulk for approximately Rs 1 lakh for 10,000 citizens. Some contacts were also bought in the black market in the US and forwarded to the Mira Road call centre.
How were callers identified:
The company placed advertisements on social media and flyers around Mira Road inviting candidates, even less qualified to interview. If they showed potential, they were given rigorous voice training to modify their voices to a heavy American accent. The employees had to perfect a six page script for mock calls. Once they were selected as employees, they were trained to issue threats and extort money. Employees were paid by cash.
How did the scam come to light:
The scam was on for over a year, before a disgruntled employee tipped off Thane police. Sleuths kept vigil on the Mira Road call centre for a few weeks, before raiding the place with over 200 policemen. Sources also say that detailed investigations are on and this may only be the tip of the iceberg.