MUMBAI (AFP) - Indian police said on Wednesday (Oct 5) they had detained and questioned more than 750 bogus call centre workers accused of stealing millions of dollars from American citizens by posing as United States tax officials.
Some 200 officers raided seven premises masquerading as call centres in India's financial capital Mumbai in a massive operation on Tuesday (Oct 4) night following a tip-off, a senior police official said.
"A total of 772 employees were detained. Out of this 70 were formally arrested and the others were released, but investigations against them are ongoing," said Inspector Sukhada Narkar, a spokesperson for police in the Thane suburb of Mumbai.
Police allege that the accused would telephone Americans and pretend to be officials from the Internal Revenue Service, the US government body responsible for collecting taxes.
They would tell the person at the end of the phone that they had defaulted on their tax payments and owed money.
After duping the victims into revealing their bank details they would then withdraw money from their accounts, Inspector Narkar said, adding that the fraud had been going on for over a year.
She said police believe that the fraudsters were making around 10 million rupees (S$205,418) a day.
"We have booked them under various sections of the Indian penal code and action will be taken against these bogus call centres and their employees," she added.
Inspector Narkar said Indian police had not worked with US authorities on the case, although there have been reports in American media about similar-sounding scams, which authorities have said might be operated out of India.
India became the call centre capital of the world in the early noughties.
US and other foreign firms, drawn by India's large, educated and cheaper English-speaking workforce, farmed out a wide variety of jobs, ranging from answering bank client calls and answering train timetable inquiries to IT support.
But India recently lost its crown to the Philippines and is struggling to maintain its share of the global outsourcing market.