Police in the Indian city of Mumbai continue to raid call centers weeks after the Mira Road scandal was uncovered. Four more call centers were raided last week and nine the week prior.
Hundreds of agents have been arrested during the raids on charges of posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officers to defraud U.S. citizens out of millions of dollars.
The scandal has hit the country’s call center industry hard, with The Times of India reporting that foreign consumers were becoming increasingly suspicious about calls coming from Indian call center agents.
While the Mira Road case seems similar to a call center scam reported from Jamaica, it is no doubt far bigger in size, so much so that FBI agents have now arrived in India to investigate alongside local police.
The call centers, according to police, had been operating for nearly a year and collected between US$90,000 and US$150,000 a day. Police suspect the ringleaders had associates in the U.S. where the payments were processed.
Sushil Modi, the founder and CEO of Pune-based recruiting firm iTek Focal Solutions Pvt Ltd, told Times that the scam had hurt the reputation of all other call centers across the country. “Ever since news of the scam broke, our clients have become skeptical about the minutest details including licenses or other documents, which was not the case earlier,” he said. Worse still, many workers have now started refusing jobs in call centers.
In fact, call centers have long been on the decline in India, with many firms choosing Philippines over India because of a preference for American-style English.
It seems American authorities have long suspected some call center firms operating out of India. In June this year, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission told the Senate Judiciary Committee that it had launched a major international crackdown in 2012, halting six tech support scams primarily based in India that targeted consumers in the United States.
Reports say FTC even provided training for Indian law enforcement authorities to arrest and prosecute individuals perpetrating these acts.
In its report, the agency stated that some Indian call centers ‘are continuing to be the source of various imposter frauds’ like their Jamaican counterparts.