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Indian Police Bust IRS Phone Scam Center Outside Mumbai

Indian Police Bust IRS Phone Scam Center Outside Mumbai

70 people arrested from nine call centers

CBS News reports that criminals make an estimated 10,000 IRS scam phone calls each week and that the scammers are ruthless in preying on Americans’ fear of the IRS’s unique and expansive power. Not only is the IRS the “the most feared federal agency in the country,” but it’s also deemed by the majority of Americans as “frequently” abusing its power, an abuse with which Tea Party groups and conservatives are well aware.

Happily, Indian police have busted a large IRS phone “scam center” located in three buildings on the outskirts of Mumbai.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “U.S. authorities have struggled to combat an epidemic of swindlers targeting taxpayers. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, an IRS watchdog, said it has received more than 1.7 million complaints in the last three years from people reporting phone calls from swindlers impersonating IRS agents. More than 8,800 victims have paid more than $47 million as a result of these scams, it added.”

The Wall Street Journal continues:

Police said three nondescript office buildings on the edge of this booming Mumbai suburb were packed with hundreds of people posing as Internal Revenue Service officials in a scam that has vexed Americans for years.

Authorities arrested 70 people Wednesday alleging they helped manage nine call-centers where around 700 people made thousands of calls a day to try to trick Americans into sending them money.

Police raided the buildings Tuesday night, authorities said. Witnesses near one of the buildings said employees who were assumed to be doing the standard kind of call center work such as helping people manage their bank accounts or buy insurance emerged in police custody covering their faces to hide their identities.

Police said the call center workers had one job: dial people in the U.S., accuse them of failing to pay their taxes and threaten them with jail time if they didn’t pay up immediately. Police didn’t give an estimate on how much money the operation netted, but the ability to employ hundreds of English-speaking people suggests it had significant revenue.

“You can call it a scam center,” said Parag Manere, a deputy commissioner of police in Thane, just east of Mumbai.

The IRS has long been issuing warnings about a phone scam in which the caller identifies himself as an IRS agent and threatens arrest and imprisonment or a lawsuit if supposed unpaid taxes are not paid immediately.

As the IRS notes in its 2013 warning, these scammers are quite sophisticated and can mimic IRS and local police phone numbers on caller id.  Having received one of these calls that went to voicemail, I can add that the scammer who targeted me wanted me call the “IRS arrest line” as soon as I got their message so I could either pay up or presumably request to be arrested instead.  It was completely ludicrous, as are the IRS phone scams asking that people pay via iTunes gift cards, but there are more clever IRS scammers out there who do frighten people into paying them.

The IRS warns that these calls take place throughout the year and advises that it will never solicit payment by telephone, nor will it demand immediate (i.e. within two hours or else) payment followed by threats of jail time.

Note that the IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

These scams, however, are likely to continue and, worse, to continue to be successful for as long as the IRS retains its dubious distinction of being the most feared and distrusted federal agency in America.

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Comments

Without getting too hyperbolic, the REAL IRS is a criminal organization, enforcing the WORST affront to a free people in history; the tax code as it exists now.

And, naturally, nobody running for POTUS is going to change it, except propose changes around the margins that likely won’t see the light of day, and HAVE been scored as significantly raising the national debt.

The Indian criminals are pikers by comparison.

I’m so miffed at the IRS for the Tea Party targeting that if they or a phony ever called my house, they’d get an earful.

    Ear-fulls won’t do it. Impeachments and contempts of Congress will.

    But for that, we have to elect Tea Party patriots, not Crying Boehers of the GOPe who stabbed us in the back and sold out their country.

I’ve been getting a lot of these calls recently but don’t bother to answer the phone when the caller ID is from a number I don’t recognize, especially when it says “Wireless Caller”.

If one gets through, my discussion will begin after they tell me there version of the story that I’m a retired district director of the IRS–and I’ll just wait for the click of them hanging up.

My elderly aunt gave them their CPA’s number and said go talk to him about it. No more calls, or so they tell me.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to persecutor. | October 7, 2016 at 9:41 am

    …that I’m a retired district director of the IRS…

    And, your handle is “persecutor”. Interesting.

Gullibility + fear is a bad combination.

OTOH, it’s a good combination if you’re a scammer.

A great big thank you to the Indian police for shutting down the boiler room. What a pain in the *ss they can be calling all hours of the day and night.

Rick the Curmudgeon | October 6, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Good. Now about those people trying to sell me alarm systems and medic alerts…

    I’ve been getting calls telling me that I’ve been selected for a “free security system” at least twice a week for the last 3 months.

    My new response when they finish the first line of their pitch is “put your supervisor on the line please.” If they try the pitch again, I repeat “put your supervisor on the line, please.” Half the time they hang up, the other half of the time they put me on hold for 10 seconds and a “supervisor” picks up the line, who I tell the following:

    “Remove my number from your database immediately. If I receive another call from your organization, my immediate next phone call will be to the Attorney General of Texas, to open a personal and governmental Deceptive Trade Practices Suit which will subject your organization, and you personally, to fines, court fees and jail time. Where may I send you a written notice?” (which is actually all true).

    I usually get a VERY fast apology and a promise to be removed.

    One of these days soon, I’m going to actually make good on the threat, and reach out and file against the scammers both in person and through the Texas Attorney General’s Deceptive Trade Practices arm.

      Milhouse in reply to Chuck Skinner. | October 7, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      So whom can I call to get myself off the Donald Trump phone list. He calls me almost every single day, asking for money. I have never given him anything, and I wouldn’t give him anything even if I had it. The calls come from different numbers, so I can’t just block one and be done with it.

Phone companies are missing out by not offering a service that enables people put a private and programmable code to ring their phone.

360-867-5309-xxxx. You don’t get to ring Jenny unless she gives you the x’s. Jenny can change the x’s when her number ends up on the bathroom wall or India call centers. Brute force Jenny’s xxxx’s and the PBX black lists your phone.

My phone service allows up to twenty blocked numbers. I’ve given up. After you block one, they just come back in a few days with a different number.

“Call the IRS arrest line?” Surely they could do better than that. The best scam calls / emails I’ve seen pretend to be from UPS, Fedex, USPS, etc since most people have something on the way.

Ask Brian or Kelli who Babe Ruth was. Works every time.

DieJustAsHappy | October 6, 2016 at 7:58 pm

If these scammers are making money off of U.S. citizens, then why doesn’t the IRS go after them the way they have other criminal organizations?

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to DieJustAsHappy. | October 7, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Because going after waitresses and auto mechanics is easier. They can’t afford good tax accountants and lawyers.

    Milhouse in reply to DieJustAsHappy. | October 7, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Um, because they’re not in the USA. The IRS can’t do anything about people in India, except ask the Indian government to do something, which they did.

Imagine when the knock at the door comes from the Obamacare police?

Louie Gohmert Exposes Obamacare Secret Security Force
http://freedomoutpost.com/louie-gohmert-warns-americans-obamacare-secret-security-force/

Don’t look to the Crying Boehners for help.

I got one of those calls just a couple of days ago! I kept him on the line for several minutes, asking him questions, and pretending to cry. He was getting really frustrated so I finally said, “How dumb do you think I am, you crook!” Slam went the receiver!

David Breznick | October 6, 2016 at 9:20 pm

I don’t answer my cellphone anymore unless either I recognize the caller, or the call comes from one of Miami’s two area codes (it could be somebody at work whose number I don’t know). Consequently, occasionally one of these scammers gets through to me, and it happened twice in the past two weeks.

The first one, I told him to meet me at the IRS office building in downtown Miami. I would bring a check over there in an hour. He hung up.

To the scammer who called more recently, I told him that he was wrong, I did not owe the IRS $4,000. I owed $916 million. He hung up, too.

The IRS has long been issuing warnings about a phone scam in which the caller identifies himself as an IRS agent and threatens arrest and imprisonment or a lawsuit if supposed unpaid taxes are not paid immediately.

The IRS warns that these calls take place throughout the year and advises that it will never solicit payment by telephone, nor will it demand immediate (i.e. within two hours or else) payment followed by threats of jail time.

I have to confirm that this is a scam with my clients at least once a month. My standard response now is “it’s a scam, but give me an hour to look into it.”

My client in the last one received 3 phone calls in a period of 2 hours: The first was went to voicemail, which demanded a “call-back” within 2 hours and threatened jail time. The second went to voicemail which threatened that if he did not return their call immediately to make a payment arrangement, a suit would be filed today and a warrant would be issued for his arrest for failure to pay his taxes.

The third call he picked up and actually spoke to a person who demanded that he immediately give his Social Security Number (he refused) and that he make a payment arrangement over the phone. He followed my advice and demanded a letter in writing, and they inquired if he still lived at an address that he lived at 7 years ago. He then forwarded me the number provided to follow up with.

The number had a perfectly set up copy of the IRS phone tree response system with a caveat that it asked you to enter your Social Security Number in order to get to a live person (for “account purposes” of course). I entered 000-00-0000 and the system immediately hung up on me.

    jack burns in reply to Chuck Skinner. | October 7, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Have a little empathy. These folks are waiting for customer service gigs at the likes of Apple call centers to open up. If they need to cut a few corners to keep them in chickpeas, hey, who’s counting?

    David Breznick in reply to Chuck Skinner. | October 7, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    They’re becoming more clever. If a call such as this gets through to me, past my filter, I will enter a made-up random number, and report back to here the findings.

I work with a former Peace Corps volunteer, and he tells the story of receiving a phishing call. He recognized the accent as African, and so he cursed the scammer as only an African can. He had the guy crying, begging and pleading that the curse be lifted.
This one is pretty good, too:
https://youtu.be/CuVFcizDwqw

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