US authorities charge 6 Indian call centres, directors in alleged scam

Six Indian call centre companies and their directors have been charged by US authorities in an alleged conspiracy to defraud Americans by posing as officials from the government pension system and the tax agency in tens of millions of phone calls.

Announcing the charges filed in an Atlanta court, Federal Prosecutor Kurt Erskine said on Thursday: “These India-based call centres allegedly scared their victims and stole their money, including some victims’ entire life savings.

“Scam robocalls cause emotional and financial devastation to victims, particularly our vulnerable and elderly populations.”

People around the US receive calls continuously from people barely concealing Indian accents and claiming to be American officials threatening arrest or other penalties.

These calls that come even several times a day have marred the reputation of Indians and India among Americans.

The six companies and their directors were charged with conspiring with a company that provides telephone services over the internet, E Sampark, and its director, Guarav Gupta, “to forward tens of millions of scam calls to American consumers”, the Justice Department said.

That company and Gupta had been charged in November 2021 in connection with the alleged scam.

The call centres and their directors placed the initial scam calls and the provider of the internet phone service known as VoIP forwarded those calls into this country to attempt to defraud Americans, according to the Department.

The Department said these call centres and directors were charged: Achivers A Spirit of BPO Solutions Private Limited and Manu Chawla; Fintalk Global and Sushil Sachdeva, Nitin Kumar Wadwani, and Swarndeep Singh alias Sawaran Deep Kohli; Global Enterprises and Dinesh Manohar Sachdev; Shivaay Communication Private Limited and Gaje Singh Rathore; SM Technomine Private Limited and Sanket Modi; Technomind Info Solutions and Rajiv Solanki.

Erskine said that the “criminal India-based call centres defraud US residents, including the elderly, by misleading victims over the telephone” using several scams.

Posing as officials of the government pension scheme known as Social Security the callers make threats to people saying that their identification numbers, the American equivalent of India’s Permanent Account Number (PAN), have been used in a crime, according to the Justice Department.

Or pretending to be tax officials, they tell the victims that they owe tax arrears, it said.

“In both scenarios, the call centres threaten to arrest the victim if the victim does not send money. Based on misrepresentations made during the calls, the victims, including a number of Georgia residents, mailed money to a network of individuals who allegedly laundered funds on behalf of the overseas fraud network,” the Justice Department said.

In other scams, the call centres tell the victims that they are eligible for loans and make them send a payment as fees and get their bank information or tell them that money had been deposited into their account and ask them to withdraw the “money”, which, in fact, were fake transactions, and send them as wire transfers or gift cards, according to the Department.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed @arulouis)

20220204-115202

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