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India Arrests Mastermind Behind Mumbai Call Center Scam

Indian police have finally captured the mastermind behind the dubious Mumbai call center that defrauded U.S. citizens out of millions of dollars.

Sagar Thakkar, 24, also known as Shaggy, was arrested at Mumbai’s international airport last weekend after he flew in from Dubai.

Thakkar is one among the 61 persons that a court in Texas indicted last year on charges of swindling American citizens.

The call centers, according to police, had been operating for nearly a year and collected between $90,000 and $150,000 a day.

Agents at the call centers posed as U.S. Internal Revenue Service officials and demanded payments for non-existent debts. They even threatened their victims with the possibility of arrest if they did not pay taxes or penalties.

In the U.S. indictment, Thakkar has been listed as a call center operator and payment processor. The charges he is facing include wire fraud and money laundering.

Payments by victims were laundered by a U.S. network of co-conspirators using prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, often using stolen or fake identities, the indictment said.

The scam came to light in October last year when Indian police detained over 700 people, mainly agents, and shut down a host of call centers in Mumbai as well as in the Western city of Ahmedabad.

While the scandal seems similar to a call center scam reported from Jamaica, it is no doubt far bigger in size. At least 15,000 American citizens had been targeted by the telefraud, according to U.S. officials.

Most of the detainees are out on bail, with a dozen of suspects still behind bars. The United States is likely to seek the extradition of key suspects.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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