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Indian Hustle: How Fraudsters Prey On Would-be US Tech Workers 124

Posted by timothy
from the lowest-of-the-low dept.
New submitter angel115 points out this article on the widespread fraud committed in India against many thousands of those seeking visas to work in the U.S. Many Indian techies rely on the services of visa brokers (or people who claim to be), and end up burned by the transaction. From the article: "Some are lucky enough to get a visa — only to find that the promised job in the US doesn’t materialize. Then the visa holders are forced to return to India after spending thousands of dollars just surviving. ... No official figures are available for the number of frauds in India, but an unclassified document released by Wikileaks showed that in 2009, US consular officials cited H-1B scams as one of the two most common fraud categories in India." Another interesting detail: As part of a U.S. government investigation, "Officers investigated 150 companies in the city and discovered that 77 percent 'turned out to be fraudulent or highly suspect.' ... Officials uncovered a scheme where Hyderabadis were claiming to work for made-up companies in Pune so the Mumbai consulate would be less suspicious about their applications. 'The Hyderabadis claimed that they had opened shell companies in Bangalore because "everyone knows Hyderabad has fraud and Bangalore is reputable,” according to the internal communiqué [later published by Wikileaks]."
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Indian Hustle: How Fraudsters Prey On Would-be US Tech Workers

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  • Why the exodus ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by invictusvoyd (3546069) on Monday February 24, 2014 @07:46AM (#46321999)
    Can't They just live and work in India? . There is ample opportunity in India waiting to be tapped. The very first time I saw a US visa applicants queue at one embassy , I decided never to be a part of this . No wonder the Americans are fed up of all these fellas . And whats worse is they form the Indian stereotype in the US . Many who have made the H1 B or whatever seem to believe that they have achieved some "higher ground" by working in the US . I can't get it . I value fellas who write good shell scripts more than these " yum bee yea's " .
    • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday February 24, 2014 @08:00AM (#46322047)

      Never underestimate the number of naive people in the world who think the grass is always greener elsewhere. Sometimes it is, usually - unless you come from a slum in some no hope country - it isn't. Its just the same old sh1t but with a different view out the window.

      • by khallow (566160) on Monday February 24, 2014 @08:09AM (#46322079)
        Keep in mind that most of these people probably have friends or relatives who can tell them what it's like. My understanding is that most immigrants don't immigrate without a fair idea of what they'll see on the other side and some help to ease the transition.
        • What you're saying is right, but I dont understand why it has become the defacto ambition of indian folks in general . Students, techies to-be housewifes .. Imagine if everyone in the US wanted to come to India .. whould'nt it be strange?
          • Re:Why the exodus ? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:29AM (#46322427) Journal
            It is not true. India has a billion people and there will always be a rung or starta of the society that would think moving to America would better their lives. But the top crust of Indian elites, they are not enamored by America anymore. The top grads from IITs, IIMs they don't come here. Look at the US Graduate schools. It used to be full of students from top Indian schools. Not anymore. I have not seen any resume from an IIT grad in the last 10 years. The last IIT grad I managed to recruit was in 2000.

            There are still great reasons to immigrate to USA from India. Less corruption, great clean water and air, reliable power supply etc. But for a young man from a top school contemplating US grad schools/jobs, the biggest stumbling block is the lack of domestic help. Indian girls refuse to marry and move to America because they have to do all the house work. They might be willing to cook and may be load the dishwasher. But cleaning toilets is considered the beneath their dignity. It is nearly impossible now a days to persuade Indian women without IT career prospects to immigrate to USA. Indian women with career in IT get to marry the top honchos in India and get to live a life of luxury.

            I thank my lucky stars for immigrating in the early 1990s for my wonderful wife.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Indian girls refuse to marry and move to America because they have to do all the house work.

              ... should be:

              Middle-class Indian women -- who are expected by most Indian men to be responsible for all the housework and in India have the benefit of servants -- refuse to marry and move to America because they are still expected to be responsible for all the house work but have no one to delegate it to.

              One would think that at least some marriages would could make it work, especially those where the bride comes

        • by Anonymous Coward

          My understanding is that most immigrants don't immigrate without a fair idea of what they'll see on the other side and some help to ease the transition.

          Most immigration throughout history, especially America's, is more about escaping from a shitty situation, not because people know what they'll see on the other side.

          The history of the US is full of immigrants escaping from a shittier situation back home. The early colonists were full of people persecuted for their religion. Later ones came due to economics, war, escaping from communism, etc.

          When you're escaping from a hellhole, you don't have to know a whole lot about the place you're going to. All you rea

          • by nukenerd (172703)
            AC @ 15:47 wrote :-

            When you're escaping from a hellhole, you don't have to know a whole lot about the place you're going to. All you really needed to know was "it beats the hellhole I live in now".

            No, you do not need to know it. You just need to assume it.

        • by NewYork (1602285)
          And rest of the world needs US$ due to https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik... [wikipedia.org] and till https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik... [wikipedia.org] is resolved.
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Actually the grass IS greener here in the USA. The USA has huge sections of untouched land that is some of the greenest grass around.

        Sadly you cant afford to own any of it, because the rich have intentionally suppressed wages way down so that tech employees could never hope to afford to own land.

        • Can't afford to own land? WTF? Geek squad does not make you a tech employee.

        • by cwsumner (1303261)

          Actually the grass IS greener here in the USA. The USA has huge sections of untouched land that is some of the greenest grass around.

          Sadly you cant afford to own any of it, because the rich have intentionally suppressed wages way down so that tech employees could never hope to afford to own land.

          You live too close to the city! City land is expensive, that's true anywhere.
          Get out of the cities, they are dying anyway...

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by DrSkwid (118965)

        India is a slum. People shit on the sidewalk in Mumbai. There is heartbreaking poverty everywhere you look. And stink and pollution.

        If you had a chance to leave on a plane to the US you'd seen in the movies, you'd be off like a shot.

        Shit, even if you'd only watched Jersey Shore and Real Wives of Portland you'd be off like a shot.

        Shit, even if you'd only watched Trailer Park Boys you'd be off like a short (yes I know it's Canadian).

      • by Tablizer (95088)

        Never underestimate the number of naive people in the world who think the grass is always greener elsewhere.

        Is that why I want my B1H visa for working in India?

      • by NewYork (1602285)
        In America there is no system in place today that forces people to remain separate or keeps one Class subservient to another. If you were born the son of a street sweeper, but excelled, you would be fully accepted by your peers. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik... [wikipedia.org] Not so in India. The Caste system freezes everyone in place for their life time. For someone to move from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik... [wikipedia.org] to https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik... [wikipedia.org] is denied. A Lower caste would never be allowed to marry Forward ca
        • It's essential to keep Indian politics running . All the so called cast - oriented politicians don't exist without cast . They make sure it is perpetuated to keep their jobs . They don't care squat about anybody or about changing the system etc. Besides racism is a human thing and is really difficult to eliminate.
    • Re:Why the exodus ? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by maple_shaft (1046302) on Monday February 24, 2014 @08:50AM (#46322233)

      Can't They just live and work in India?

      Why in the world would they want to do that if given a choice? Sure they have a growing middle class and an Indian software developer lives pretty well considering he is living in India. He/she can afford to live in a reasonably furnished apartment without rats or vermin, afford to feed their family and eat well, and even achieve the pinnacle of middle class success in India, possession of your very own A/C unit to keep you cool in the sweltering summers (as long as the power actually works).

      The one thing they will always live with however is the gross overpopulation, the crumbling infrastructure and the graft fraud and bribery that becomes a part of just daily living. A friend of mine from India told me to imagine your day, you get stopped by a cop for a minor infraction, pay a bribe or go to jail. You wait 8 hours in line to get your drivers license renewed unless you bribe the guy at the door to be queued ahead. Somebody can break into your home and steal what little you have and the cops just don't care.

      He told me Americans are spoiled not because we are wealthy, but because we don't see Justice as the luxury it really is. Until you live in an overcrowded country that has 400 million starving people in the streets and has rampant corruption and a generally low value on human life, then you will never truly understand how valuable Justice in a society really is. He is slightly amused watching our countries political battles and scandals.

      I appreciated his perspective and where he came from in life, and I wouldn't begrudge anybody who would want to come live here if they didn't care for that life anymore.

    • Re:Why the exodus ? (Score:4, Informative)

      by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:49AM (#46322585)

      Can't They just live and work in India?

      The whole reason why India became such a hot supply of labor is that when a refrigerator is a luxury purchase and electricity is so hit-and-miss that companies build their own private power plants, the cost of living is a LOT lower. You could buy lunch for an entire week for USD $1. Try that at a New Jersey McDonalds. Even today, after 10+ years of Indian professionals pushing salaries up, they still don't get paid anywhere near what westerners do.

      So, given a choice between getting well-paid by Indian standards to work in India, or an opportunity to get what amounts to a fantastic salary in the US and other western countries as an H1-B or equivalent - even if they are underpaid by US standards, a lot of them come to the US with the idea of building up an enormous retirement fund, then taking it home to India where it will buy much more than it does in the USA.

      Often, however, they end up getting seduced by American-style living. I know quite a few with big fancy air-conditioned houses with modern appliances and an SUV or 2 in the drive. Their main concession is that they generally don't crank the A/C down to 65 like some of my native-born neighbors do.

    • by TheSync (5291)

      Can't They just live and work in India?

      Why can't we all be able to live and work wherever we want?

      • Which is the same as " Why have countries ?" .. I'm for the "one world thing" as long as we have a proper model like a "resource based economy" or something ..
    • by mjwx (966435)

      Can't They just live and work in India?

      From your perspective, India seems cheap... but for your average American job that pays $30K their still getting barely above a living wage in India and there's 10 people behind them willing to take that from them. The same job in the US allows them to own a car, a house, live in a nice city.

      On the flip side, earning US$30K p/a in India allows you to live a very good life... but it's not a common wage.

    • by NewYork (1602285)
      If you meet anybody from India ask him "What Is Your Caste?" If he answers it, then you're doomed. Because he has already injected Cancer into your society. Caste is like Cancer. It cannot be Cured. It has to be Cut-Off. http://www.washingtonpost.com/... [washingtonpost.com]
  • Cue jokes about call centre workers and other Indian tech. stereotypes.
  • But instead the US companies use these indentured servants to keep skilled labor wages down.

    There is nothing more fun than wasting hours every day explaining basic concepts to our h1-b teams who can barely communicate in English. The customers certainly love the cryptic messaging in the software.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There is nothing more fun than wasting hours every day explaining basic concepts to our h1-b teams who can barely communicate in English.

      So don't explain them. Let them figure it out. Agree amongst yourselves not to prop up gross incompetence. You don't have to be blatant about it: just explain at the same level you'd explain to someone of average competence, and let it be their responsibility to figure out the rest.

      This is the sort of thing where even the most primitive organization of labor would act in your favor. "Why isn't this done?" "That guy over there." "He says you didn't explain things." [response of everyone] "Yes, we did. He is

  • To me this just seems like a good way to weed out the idiots.

    • Unfortunately, it's a good way to weed out the honest, trusting, and naive.

      People tend to look at others through eyes that are a microcosm of their belief set(s).

      Despite popular wisdom to the contrary, it is more difficult to con a con than a rube.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The misery doesn't end if they actually get into the US with a job. Once they apply for a green card US law requires they work for the same company for 7 years. The contracting companies use this to their advantage. I've seen friends being delayed given documents needed to prove how long they worked. I don't know all the details of what they go through, but I've heard enough to not want to hire from certain companies again.

  • worth the risk? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by richman555 (675100)
    Poor Indian technical workers... yet there are many Americans without jobs. Taking a risk coming to the US for a job? I guess they don't realize they will work in US I.T. sweatshops.
  • Boo Fu*king Hoo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2014 @08:25AM (#46322129)

    Yes, am sounding insensitive to folks in India. However, am sitting on the other side, where my company has moved all Sys Admin and Database Admin overseas. Posting Anon to keep my resume hopes up. When the f*ck are we going to wake up and take care of our country? Folks collectively spend billions getting the degrees and experience, only to get jobs at Walmart; where they can't even pay their student loans. To top it, we continue to support FB, Google, M$ and others who continue to push for underpaid H1V1 visas...

    • Re:Boo Fu*king Hoo (Score:4, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday February 24, 2014 @10:06AM (#46322711)
      Sounds to me like the bad guys are the people deciding to outsource your job, not the people getting ripped off here. Not even the people ripping them off, though they are bad too.

      It sounds like you're saying "I have problems too, so why should I care about someone else's problems?" Which is fair, no one is asking you to donate money to help H1V1 scam victims, but "boo fucking hoo" is pointless, and misdirected.
    • Re:Boo Fu*king Hoo (Score:4, Insightful)

      by schlachter (862210) on Monday February 24, 2014 @10:36AM (#46322937)

      Victims all around, but the perpetrators are your fellow American capitalists...not Indians or anyone else trying to find a job to support their family.

      • by gnupun (752725)
        Exactly, the govt needs to have a quota, like H1B, that limits the number of jobs that can be outsourced to a different country. The business folks are always going to outsource everything as long it increases profit by 2x to 5x.
        • That would be stupid. Business owners should be free to hire who they like. Likewise, workers should be free to unionize and consumers should be free to boycott in response.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Until it becomes not worth the effort to screw-over the American worker, companies will continue destroying the job market, as long at it's profitable.
      Why do they do this ?
      Not because there's a need for skilled workers, we have plenty (but not at a cheap enough cost).
      They do this shit because companies can claim a deduction for:
      1. The costs associated with moving jobs overseas.
      2. Deduction for moving a plant overseas.
      3. Defer paying taxes on income earned overseas.
      There are more rewards for the bastards.
      Law

    • However, am sitting on the other side, where my company has moved all Sys Admin and Database Admin overseas.

      Who swaps out a bad hard drive?

      • by dodobh (65811)

        A hardware technician. You don't need that many of those.

        Or you virtualise as much as possible, and then you need even fewer hands on site.

    • by ikhider (2837593)
      "Folks collectively spend billions getting the degrees and experience, only to get jobs at Walmart; where they can't even pay their student loans. To top it, we continue to support FB, Google, M$ and others who continue to push for underpaid H1V1 visas..." Not to contradict you, I am very interested in this, especially the last part. A lot of these monster companies thrive on unpaid work, more detail on this would be valued. I agree, we support too many monsters, like Apple. http://www.aljazeera.com/progr.. [aljazeera.com]
  • China too (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I lived in China for a while and similar scams were common there. I remember having to explain to a friend there, a trained nurse, why paying around $1500 up front for a company that said they would get her a Canadian visa and a (huge by Chinese standards) salary around $1200 a month. It was not an immigration visa that would let her stay long term, but a domestic servant visa for a live-in job caring for an Alzheimer's patient.

    The Canadian embassy had warnings on their web site that 'visa consultants' were

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There are lots of quite eager visa-seekers. As a late-50s Canadian male in China -- without a large income and not remarkably handsome even as a young man -- I got several marriage proposals from attractive women in their thirties. One lass proposed within minutes of meeting me and several offered to pay me.

  • I've had several Indian contractors in my little work area lately who seem to constantly be on the phone about problems with their paychecks or tax forms. One guy didn't get paid for several weeks because "the guy who signs the checks is out of the country on business." A couple other ones had their first few paychecks held (Which seems to be a common practice but illegal at least under this state's law.) I suggested they bring their complaints up with the state labor board, but they don't appear to be will
    • but they don't appear to be willing to do that.

      AIUI the problem is that the US has H1B (and possiblly other visas but H1B seems to be the main one) visas that mean the immigrant can't easilly change jobs and if they lose their job they will most likely be sent home. This puts the employer in a much stronger position than they would be if they were employing an american citizen or permanent resident.

      If the immigrant puts up with the shit for a sufficint number of years then AIUI the can generally become a permanent resident (and eventually if they wish a

      • by Greyfox (87712)
        Easy way around this would be to form an IT workers' union and have the union hold H1B visas. Of course, if there was a union, you probably wouldn't need to worry about H1B workers being paid a fraction of what citizens make in the first place.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Correct me if I misunderstood something here but these people are trying to commit visa fraud themselves. They are paying a company for the purpose of getting a visa just so they can get into the country to look for a job with other companies in the US and transfer their visa. They know that these are shell companies that will not actually employ them.

    • Correct me if I misunderstood something here but these people are trying to commit visa fraud themselves. They are paying a company for the purpose of getting a visa just so they can get into the country to look for a job with other companies in the US and transfer their visa. They know that these are shell companies that will not actually employ them.

      How would they have any idea that visa fraud would be involved? There is bureaucracy, which might be impossible to penetrate for someone who doesn't have knowledge how this bureaucracy works. You hire someone who knows best what forms to fill out, where to send them and so on. It's as much fraud as hiring a lawyer to defend yourself in court, or hiring a CV writer to create a much better CV than you could.

  • This is not just visas to the West, but also to the Middle east, and Asia pacific, visa agencies and bodyshops have been scamming people forever. There were movies made mocking how these tricksters operate. Back in the Y2K days when tech workers from India were brought to the US in large numbers there was a practice of falsifying University degrees. These Scams Scoundrels and suckers have always been around.
  • I would think a thread like this on an IT-oriented site would drum up quite a bit of feedback from Indians that have migrated to America (under any circumstances). Though I share the same sentiments as many U.S.-based posters have (hate cleaning-up/debugging horrible code, dealing with people who hide their lack of comprehension behind a Yes-Man veil, etc), I'm curious how "the other half lives".

    What drives someone in India to come to the US, rather than improving their situation at home?

    What challe

    • by debug22 (3549893)
      Thanks @Xeleema for requesting comments from an Indian immigrant to the US. I believe if you read carefully there are different versions of this perspective near the top of the comments thread, but here goes, anyway:

      What drives someone in India to come to the US, rather than improving their situation at home?

      Different reasons depending on the route one takes. For those like me that took the educational route, perhaps it was disillusionment with things back home coupled with having a dream and a getting new opportunity to start things fresh and try something that wasn't possible back home. As Ind

      • by Xeleema (453073)

        debug22,
        Thank you for the response. It really sheds some light on the situation and I appreciate the first-hand experience you shared. Now I'm really curious about Canada - If it's so easy to get a green card, why aren't IT companies setting up support shops north of the U.S.A instead of directly importing people?

        This constant back-and-forth with various agencies trying to hash-out visas here in the U.S. has always struck me as large waste of time and money for everyone involved...

        • by AvitarX (172628)

          The thing that surprises me, is the difficulty of getting permanant status after completing graduate school.

          My friend has been a productive member of the US working class, and depending on how things with applications, has a 1 in 3 chance of staying here. It makes no sense to me, because it seems like the opposite effect of a brain drain, people come here, get educated, then are sent home.

          • by debug22 (3549893)
            Two clarifications: 1. The visa quotas are perhaps reasonable based on the needs of legitimate businesses, but the mad rush/lottery I mentioned is probably due to the glut of "fake" companies that exploit the system, that this story is about. Or perhaps these are a product of the system itself, which leaves no safety net for legal status in the event of loss of job, or inability to get one right out of college or grad school. One really has to get another job in a month or two, or risk being "out of status"
          • by cwsumner (1303261)

            The thing that surprises me, is the difficulty of getting permanant status after completing graduate school.

            My friend has been a productive member of the US working class, and depending on how things with applications, has a 1 in 3 chance of staying here. It makes no sense to me, because it seems like the opposite effect of a brain drain, people come here, get educated, then are sent home.

            I would guess that, in the past, a lot of students were sent here by governments or companies back home. If the students got permanant visas on graduation, meny of those would not return home. And, the governments and companies would not send students here to the schools.
            It is likely that the schools themselves convinced the politicians to make that law...

    • by dodobh (65811)

      (I haven't migrated to the US, but I am working outside India.)

      What drives someone in India to come to the US, rather than improving their situation at home?

      Money. Indian salaries are still very low as compared to US salaries, especially in Silicon Valley. Improving your situation at home means that you do the same job for a third of the money (at best), or less (usually about a 5th to a 10th).

      Keep in mind that the wage gap in India is huge, unlike the US. This means that someone with 15 to 20 years of exp

      • I guess you have summed it up nicely . But I'm of the opinion that if you want to make real money in india , Join politics. The question is which is more difficult .. being a sweatshop techie or being an a**hole politician ? ( in any case if you make it from sweatshop techie to senior "manager" , u'd have to be an a**hole politician to hang around there .. and in 90% of cases a total wimp to get there .. )
  • Can't They just live and work in India?

    Can't USA just stop importing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

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