3 Arrested in Pune for Alleged Call Center Scam, Defrauding 11,000 U.S. Nationals

The call center operators would call U.S. nationals, threatening punishment for evading tax, the police said.


The Pune Police arrested three people after raiding a fake call center, which allegedly defrauded 11,000 Americans, in the Koregaon Park area on Feb. 5. The United States federal government’s Internal Revenue Services (IRS) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are investigating the matter with Pune Police’s economic and cyber crimes cell, according to the Times of India.

The police also found details of two other similar call centers being run in two different states in India but haven’t revealed the whereabouts of the centers or the people running them, citing ongoing investigations. The U.S. authorities are being kept updated with the developments in each case.

The police are also monitoring the amount of money the call center in Pune made by threatening United States citizens with punishment for tax evasion. Four other suspects have been identified but are yet to arrested.

“The IRS and the FTC, which is a federal agency for the protection of consumers, have decided to extend their help to our probe,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Sudhir Hiremath told the publication. “The suspects have used the names of American agencies extensively while issuing the threats. They forced U.S. citizens to pay amounts ranging from $500 to $1,000 by threatening them with severe punishment if caught by the IRS for evading taxes.”

This is not the first such case in Pune, Maharashtra. Pune Police raided another call center in Kharadi, Pune, in January 2018 and arrested two for cheating 175 U.S. nationals of Rs 10.5 lakh since August 2017.

“The call center had tied up with an American advertising agency to send pop-up ads on smartphones and tablets of the targeted U.S. citizens. If an unsuspecting victim ever clicked on the pop-up, his/her device would immediately get locked. Later, the victim would receive a message to contact a specific number and pay a certain amount (in dollars) to get the phone unlocked,” Hiremath added, according to the report.

Earlier in 2017, another call center scam was busted in Maharashtra, leading to the arrest of 14 people in Mumbai, who allegedly duped U.S. nationals for $300 million.

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