Police in India have arrested a man they say was the ringleader of a
network of call centers that allegedly swindled thousands of Americans
out of millions of dollars.
Sagar Thakkar, 24, was detained in Mumbai after arriving on a flight from Dubai on Saturday.
“He was the mastermind of IRS scam call centers in the state of
Maharashtra and one center in Ahmedabad,” said Mukund Hatote, assistant
commissioner of police in Thane, just north of Mumbai.
Hatote said Thakkar stands accused of extortion, cheating,
impersonation, criminal conspiracy as well as violating India’s
communications and tech laws.
News of the scam broke last October when Indian police raided nine calls centers — eight in Thane in Maharashtra — and arrested more than 70 people on suspicion of posing as IRS agents to steal cash from U.S. citizens.
Workers at bogus call centers used American accents to impersonate IRS
agents. They told their victims that they owed back taxes and would risk
arrest if they hung up or failed to pay up.
— also known as “Shaggy” — was one of 61 defendants mentioned in a
U.S. indictment unsealed last October. The bogus call center workers
were accused of stealing from 15,000 people by using the IRS scam and
other fraud schemes.
U.S. prosecutors say the defendants also posed as immigration officers
and threatened victims with deportation unless they paid a fine
immediately. They said in October that 20 people across eight U.S.
states had been arrested.
Indian police say they have charged more than 390 people in connection with the scheme, and more than 12 remain in jail.
|Sagar Thakkar was arrested shortly after getting off a flight from Dubai at Mumbai airport.|
Hatote said Thakkar had been living a “lavish lifestyle” on the
proceeds of the scheme. But it’s still not entirely clear how much money
was stolen in total.
“We are still investigating the
total amount of money collected by Sagar Thakkar,” said Hatote. “During
the initial stage of investigation, it was looking around $300 million.”
The mechanics of the operation appear very similar to
those of an IRS impersonation scam that U.S. authorities say swindled
victims out of more than $15 million between 2013 and 2015.CNNMoney