New Delhi (Sputnik) — Police in Gurugram — the IT hub of north India, have busted a fake call center racket in which thousands of foreigners, mostly Americans were defrauded to the tune of millions of dollars.
An official from the Gurugram police who did not wish to be named told Sputnik that approximately 300 people were running ten call centers at different locations in the city.
"We have arrested 33 people, including a person from Ghana, who were working as managers and team leaders in these call centers. We are also questioning around 250 persons who were employed to make the calls to lure foreign citizens [into paying for] cheaper loans, lotteries and tax benefits," a senior police officer from the Gurugram crime branch told Sputnik.
Apple.Inc (US) is itself aware of scams involving iTunes Gift Cards and it has an advisory on its website warning users against using such cards for purposes other than making purchases from Apple application stores.
"It's important to know that iTunes Gift Cards can be used ONLY to purchase goods and services from the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or for an Apple Music membership. If you're approached to use the cards for payment outside of the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or Apple Music, you could very likely be the target of a scam and should immediately report it to your local police department as well as the FTC," the online advisory reads.
Those arrested, most of whom are from the capital Delhi and its vicinity, have been booked for misuse of information technology. Police say they are also looking into the possibility of the involvement of a Kingpin, who they suspect could be from the state of Gujarat but is currently living abroad.
Last year, police had unearthed similar scams in Delhi, Pune, and Mumbai. Investigations had revealed that the busted call centers had duped American citizens, mainly tax defaulters, a total of $300 million by posing as tax sleuths who could waive off the penalty for unpaid taxes in lieu of a certain amount of payment.
Experts say that such scams are a big blot on India's image as a lucrative business process outsourcing destination.
"Increasing number of such fraud businesses is a definitely big threat to India's $110 billion business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and the countries engaged with India have raised concern over such cases several times with the government as well," Jiten Jain, C.E.O at Indian Infosec Consortium told Sputnik.