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. By
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.
Thakkar -- 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.
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