IRS Scam telemarketers busted

Well, it’s a start. However, I’m not sure the problem is going to go away completely. Yahoo news has reported thatIndia arrests 70 call-center workers accused of duping U.S. citizens. This is part of the IRS scams, where they call you and try to make you believe that people are on their way to arrest you for tax fraud – and you need to pay themright now with silly things like iTunes cards, or other unusual things for the government to request.

Given the number of occurrences people have mentioned this in various phone number reporting forums, this was a significant problem. And a costly one, at that. These people were making about $150,000 USD every day from frightened people. Of course, the article mentions on blinding flash of the obvious:

“The motive was earning money,” said Parag Manere, a deputy commissioner of police. “They were running an illegal process, posing themselves as officers of the (U.S.) Internal Revenue Service.”

Of course the motive is money. That’s one thing we’ve mentioned many times on this site – the primary motivation of these telemarketers is money. And if you can take away the money, you take away the motivation to telemarket inappropriately.

Running scams like this take a little bit of infrastructure, and we didn’t think it was people running these things out of the hovel. Turns out, that seems to be correct:

Sources, however, claimed that the network is spread across various cities in the country, including Mumbai. “As per our information, at least 15 more call centres in and around Mumbai are in this business,” said a senior officer from Thane police, who is privy to the investigation.

Some of these call centers have been used for out-sourced call center, but it sounds like some have cropped up specifically to defraud people in the US. They had training programs to help recruit and train new call center employees into this scam. So this likely is much larger than these initial reports are showing.

This article fromThe India Timesgoes into the detail of how organized and structured these operations where. They had training, scripts, the telephony infrastructure, black-market resources to identify potential victims, the works. Having heard some of the people recording conversations with these scammers, I do find one note in their description kind of funny:Using an impeccable US accent, …. Impeccable? Seriously? No, all the callers I heard were definitely foreign sounding, Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for some of the victims to question the validity of these scammers.

Hopefully, the Indian police will shut down the remaining call-centers in due course. Especially since they are pretty much out of the reach of traditional US law enforcement. Maybe we need to train our own group of concerned citizens to call them up, and pretend to be frightened tax-payers, and keep them from being able to contact as many victims as they have. It would be cheaper to pay a few hundred people $20/hr and have them hassle these people all day, than the cost to the victims. Perhaps we need to have a more active policy for dealing with these overseas scammers?


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