Over the past few years, India has emerged as a hub for fake call centers that dupe US citizens. The modus operandi of these call centers is simple but effective - they make unsolicited calls to US citizens and pretend to be representatives of a well-known technology company such as Microsoft, Apple or Google. They then lure their targets into buying a fake security software by asking them to purchase gift cards and provide the card numbers to them.
The rise of these fake call centers has been a cause of concern for both the Indian and US authorities. According to a report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Americans lost a staggering $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021 alone. While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of calls made from India, the FTC report states that 63% of all fraud reports came from phone calls, making it the most common way of defrauding US citizens.
To tackle this issue, the Indian government has taken a series of measures to crack down on these fake call centers. The Cyber Crime Cell of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been at the forefront of this fight. In October 2021, the CBI arrested 19 people in a major bust that uncovered a fake call center in the northern Indian city of Noida. The call center was operating under the guise of a legitimate tech support company and was found to be defrauding US citizens by selling them fake security software.
On tuesday the CBI recovered gadgets, foreign currencies and more than Rs 3 crore during the searches at four locations in Delhi-NCR and arrested 5 people.
They said the case is related to a CBI FIR registered on June 10 last year against
Harish Kumar, Amit Kumar, Rakesh Kumar and Raj Kumari for allegedly cheating US citizens by taking controls of their computers in the garb of tech support.
The CBI alleged that the call center had been operating for over a year and had made millions of dollars in profits by duping US citizens. The call center had a sophisticated setup with dedicated teams for making calls, providing technical support, and handling payments. The CBI also found evidence of the call center's involvement in hawala transactions, which are illegal under Indian law.
The crackdown on fake call centers is not limited to India. US law enforcement agencies have also been working closely with their Indian counterparts to identify and shut down these call centers. In 2020, the US Department of Justice announced the indictment of 24 individuals, including 20 Indian nationals, in connection with a massive tech support fraud scheme that targeted elderly US citizens. The individuals were charged with a range of offenses, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.
The Indian government has also taken steps to prevent the operation of fake call centers. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has issued guidelines for BPOs (business process outsourcing) and call centers, requiring them to register with the government and comply with certain security standards. The guidelines also require BPOs and call centers to have proper training and background checks for their employees.
In conclusion, the rise of fake call centers in India is a serious issue that has affected thousands of US citizens. While the Indian government has taken steps to crack down on these call centers, more needs to be done to prevent their operation. The US authorities must also do their part by sharing information and working closely with their Indian counterparts to identify and shut down these call centers. Ultimately, it is only through international cooperation and collaboration that we can put an end to this menace.