Nine call centers were raided in India recently and at least 70 people were arrested for running a scam in which they impersonated agents of the Internal Revenue Service, and threatened victims with jail if they didn't pay "back taxes" immediately. Investigators said the bogus ring was taking in about $150,000 every day for about a year before the con was uncovered. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
THANE, India, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Authorities in India have dropped the hammer on several "call centers" that were nerve centers for an aggressive scam intended to swindle Americans out of cash by posing as the Internal Revenue Service.
Indian police said at least 70 people have been arrested for taking part in the scam and investigators are looking at hundreds more. Nine call centers were disrupted by the crackdown.
"They were stunned to see the police," deputy police commissioner Parag Manere, who supervised the raid, said. "They never thought that police would raid them."
Why was that, I wonder? Did they assume the police were on the take? Were the police on the take? And if they were, what happened? Should there be an investigation into the possibility of police being on the take?
The goal of the scammers is simple, officials say -- call as many U.S. residents as possible, pose as an IRS agent and tell them they owe back taxes. The coup de grace comes when the scammers tell the unsuspecting, and often frightened, Americans that they will be arrested and taken to jail unless they pony up the cash immediately.
Authorities say the scammers often don't raise suspicion because they speak with an American accent and they give no indication the money is going overseas. Officials say they set it up so the cash was wired to U.S. bank accounts before being transferred to India.
And a lot of people fell for it.
Incredibly, the bogus IRS call centers were taking in about $150,000 per day for a year before the con was uncovered.
So far, some of the big wigs of the scam have eluded capture and Indian authorities believe there are almost certainly accomplices in the United States.
Indian investigators got into position to bust the IRS ring after an informant came forward a few weeks ago. Police said more than 600 other suspected scammers are under investigation and could also be arrested.
Impersonating the IRS to unlawfully collect money is hardly a new concept. Several people have been arrested and charged inside the United States in recent years for doing the same thing. Authorities say millions of dollars have been swindled out of residents since the scam started about three years ago.