Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Crime Government United States

How A Massive India Call Center Swindled 15,000 Americans (nytimes.com) 104

An FBI agent based in India says the country has now become a major hub for call-center fraud, blaming "a demographic bulge of computer-savvy, young, English-speaking job seekers; a vast call-center culture; super-efficient technology; and what can only be described as ingenuity." The Justice Depatment recently indicted one company for scamming "hundreds of millions of dollars" from over 15,000 victims, placing more than 1.8 million phone calls to Americans, and Slashdot reader retroworks brings an update: The New York Times has an interesting blow-by-blow story on two India tech center employees who informed on their call center fraud operation, which targeted Americans (especially recent immigrants) with fraudulent IRS calls and other scams. [May be paywalled; free version here.] The building was surrounded by police, phone lines cut. Eventually 630 of the employees were released, and charges were brought against 70 managers and executives of the call center.
The operation filled a seven-story high-rise, and the Times reports that after the raid, "fraudulent IRS calls to Americans dropped 95% percent, according to the Better Business Bureau." But they add that one former employee believes the scams will continue. Within weeks of the raid, he'd been offered a nearly identical job: calling Americans and claiming that their computer was infected with a virus.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How A Massive India Call Center Swindled 15,000 Americans

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2017 @02:44PM (#53624299)

    Sometimes the tables are turned [youtube.com]. This is hilarious and sad. I can't decide how to feel about it, honestly.

  • Empthy (Score:5, Funny)

    by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @02:48PM (#53624311) Homepage

    I feel bad for people who fall for it, but the two times I was called for similar grifting, it was a hilarious fun conversation.

    • Re:Empthy (Score:5, Funny)

      by gtall ( 79522 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @06:57PM (#53625335)

      I had a call too, right after I had read an article on the scam. As soon as the Indian fellow said, "We think your computer is infected with a virus, we are here to help you recover, just let us download Blah to fix it." I couldn't stop laughing at him. He was persistent, but so was my laughter.

    • If I get a call from them, I'll tell them that I don't run Windows, just PC-BSD, and then ask them whether they have anything for that. They'd be lucky if they know what an Operating System is, let alone the difference b/w Windows and Unix

    • Yeah? But how many casualties were there among the ones who fell (unintended pun), that we still have Indians **working** in the USA? Think of displaced workers the XXI Century way, eh?
  • Bunker busters - lots of them.

    Level one of them and I guarantee the rest will find more honest ways of making a living.

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @02:58PM (#53624361)

    The insidious ones now popping up are really clever IVR calls with recorded voices of a perky white woman (sometimes man) with a generic accent. She giggles, pauses, apologizes for the delay claiming phone problems and then asks if I can hear her ok.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The REALLY insidious ones are even able to mount a successful run for the Presidency...

    • Sorry, Mr Coypu [wikipedia.org], but "IVR" ?? Infernal Vulva Revolutions? Ives Violated Robots? A video analogue of "Interactive voice response"? I'm assuming an acronym involving "video" since you can tell someone's skin colour during the call, instead of guessing it from your assumptions about the accent you hear.

      You should try phoning a Trinidadian, then guessing if he's white or black. Man.

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        Were I in Trinidad, your comment would be valid. Shockingly, I'm not in Trinidad.

        • Shockingly, I've met Trinidadians in America, Russia, Norway, Abu Dhabi, Gabon and Tanzania. Great guys (and occasionally guyesses) all. When it comes to organising a party for Saturday night (Friday night in Muslim countries), you really want to get to know your local Trinidadian population. What skin colour they are, doesn't matter - party people to a person.

          Memo to self : must visit Trinidad one day.

          Seriously - do you really think that you can tell someone's skin colour from their phone accent? Do you

          • by Nutria ( 679911 )

            do you really think that you can tell someone's skin colour from their phone accent?

            Sometimes.

  • FBI Jurisdiction (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @03:17PM (#53624453) Homepage

    Perhaps I'm mistaken, but isn't the FBI restricted to US jurisdiction? I grew up with the understanding that they were basically a domestic police force on the national level.

    I'm assuming I am mistaken, please feel free to give me further understanding on how the FBI can be in India.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You could ask about the FBI on a technology board full of middle-aged man-children, or this [google.com] also explains it.

    • IF it is a crime here, happening there, hurting U.S., THEN they have 'jurisdiction'. Under who's law may be debatable.
      • That may be very well, but they don't have any authority to operate outside the US in a foreign country as a law enforcement agency, unless that country ascribes them the authority - the FBI arresting someone in India would be simple kidnapping, and the agents involved would be committing a crime.

        So its not debatable at all - the crime here (fraud) is still being committed in India, while simultaneously being committed in the US. That doesn't mean the FBI can fly to India and arrest someone - however, many

        • That doesn't mean the FBI can fly to India and arrest someone

          Even TFS didn't make that claim. They said they were "investigating". Which covers a multitude of events short of barging in with guns drawn and handcuffs at the ready.

      • Under who is law? WTF is that supposed to mean?

    • 800 military bases in over 70 countries. Multiple wars in the last five decades. Largest economy in the world. Power doesn't get questioned.
    • Re:FBI Jurisdiction (Score:5, Informative)

      by radarskiy ( 2874255 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @04:59PM (#53624879)

      The FBI is primarily an investigatory bureau (hence the "Bureau of Investigation" bit) and there are many parts of investigation that do not require any extraordinary police powers. In addition, when a a crime crosses national borders they may be called to meet with those who do posses police authority rather than shout responses across the border.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The FBI is responsible for the investigation of crimes committed against American's nationally and internationally. They have "extraterritorial squads" that investigate, for example, the bombing of a U.S. Embassy in Africa. To operate as a law enforcement body outside the U.S., they must partner with the law enforcement agencies of the foreign countries. They cannot arrest someone in a foreign country, but must ask that country to do so. They do not carry firearms in foreign countries unless authorized

    • Re:FBI Jurisdiction (Score:5, Informative)

      by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @05:50PM (#53625065) Homepage Journal

      Perhaps I'm mistaken, but isn't the FBI restricted to US jurisdiction? I grew up with the understanding that they were basically a domestic police force on the national level.

      I'm assuming I am mistaken, please feel free to give me further understanding on how the FBI can be in India.

      From the article:

      according to Indian and American investigators, who said that the raid in Thane was carried out entirely by the local police, without assistance from American officials.

      The FBI can still typically do investigation in other countries: collect intel, interview people, etc. They can then provide information tot he local authorities to handle the actual police work.

      Yaz

    • Re:FBI Jurisdiction (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Fencepost ( 107992 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @05:53PM (#53625073) Journal
      The FBI can't arrest, but they can work with enforcement agencies that do have jurisdiction (local, (Indian) state, (Indian) national) and provide resources and information.

      The story itself talks about one of the senior local officials who won't talk much about the investigation, but "he will describe the raid, in loving, cinematic detail: How at 10 p.m., after the last of the call center staff had arrived for the night shift, 200 police officers streamed up the main staircase, blocking every exit and detaining all 700 people who worked inside." That's not 200 FBI agents, that's 200 local officers.

      I haven't read the entire story yet, but part of the reason that the whistleblowers contacted the FTC (and through them the FBI) may be corruption - if they went through local channels and picked the wrong person, that person might have simply gone back to the leaders of this with their hand out and the information on the whistleblowers. The FBI may not have jurisdiction, but they also don't have a reputation for accepting bribes.
      • That's not 200 FBI agents, that's 200 local officers.

        Either the FBI threw a lot of money at this or the call center forgot to make a donation to the police orphans' fund.

    • Actually, this is a good place where FBI operations could be outsourced to Interpol

    • by DiEx-15 ( 959602 )

      Perhaps I'm mistaken, but isn't the FBI restricted to US jurisdiction? I grew up with the understanding that they were basically a domestic police force on the national level.

      I'm assuming I am mistaken, please feel free to give me further understanding on how the FBI can be in India.

      They were working with the government of that country or in cooperation of that country.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hang up immediately on hearing an indian accent, it's as simple as that.

    • That may work for you. For me, though, unfortunately, both my manager and my star developer are Indian. I can't just hang up on an Indian accent. :) Then again, I can recognise their voices pretty easily by now, so any other Indian accent, sure. :)

  • How refreshing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ISoldat53 ( 977164 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @04:20PM (#53624711)
    "charges were brought against 70 managers and executives of the call center. " How refreshing that the suits got charged. Maybe the FBI can learn how to do that in the US.
    • I was just about as flabbergasted. I thought it's illegal to bring charges against managers and executives.

      Only then I noticed that this story isn't about the US and instead I wondered what the fuck the FBI is doing there.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @05:01PM (#53624897) Homepage Journal

    Many of my clients are older people who simply wouldn't know tech savvy if you drowned them in it.

    A while back, one of my clients' wives calls us and tells us he's on the phone with this tech support company in India and they're asking for several hundred dollars to remove a virus.

    I told her to pull their cablemodem out of the wall and then hang up with the guy. Don't even discuss it with her husband (as it'd give the guy from "wherever" a chance to do something to the machine).

    Once he was disconnected I had him hang up and explained the scam to him, while the call center guy tried calling back.

    I then pointed out that he already had both Kaspersky Antivirus and Malwarebytes on there.

    And on the off chance he was infected, I had him pull down a bootable rescue CD and scan that way.

    Saved him several hundred bucks and possibly getting his machine infected.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @07:31PM (#53625453)

      I see popups all the time telling me my computer has a virus. They often show me all these windows .dll files that are infected. Amazing as I'm running Ubuntu. I've grown my banned url list quite a bit.

      • I once had that on a hijacked router. When I opened Chromium, I got an audio announcement telling me that my computer had been infected, and it prevented me from closing the browser: my only escape was logging out and logging back in. I had no way I could lose that, so I had to exchange the router for a new one.
  • Uh, you admitted to committing crimes and didn't cut a deal so you're basically screwed if you decide to apply for a visa.
    • Actually, why not introduce a new type of visa for criminals, and give it to any of these scammers when they ask for a visa. Then, at the port of entry, when they check in at immigration, immediately call law enforcement and hand them over

      • Actually, why not introduce a new type of visa for criminals, and give it to any of these scammers when they ask for a visa. Then, at the port of entry, when they check in at immigration, immediately call law enforcement and hand them over

        Once they go to the US embassy you could arrest them there if you wanted to, no need to wait.

  • Why the hell would the FBI need an informant. It's not like these operations work in secret - they call people for god's sake. All the FBI needed to do was to wait for a call from "the Microsoft support center" and trace it.
  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @06:42PM (#53625263)
    My bank outsourced to an indian call center and the next time I called them for something I asked where I was calling. The guy evaded my questions so I dropped my account of 20+ years to a bank that uses local people. I have to wait a tiny bit longer for them to answer but they actually answer my questions. So long CIBC.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    When a massive American building fleeces thousands of young Americans it's OK as long as the building is called a university...

  • The insidious ones now popping up are really clever IVR calls with recorded voices of a perky white woman (sometimes man) with a generic accent. She giggles, pauses, apologizes for the delay claiming phone problems and then asks if I can hear her okay.
  • This happened to the old age father of a friend, who gave them a continuous authority on a debit card for "support". Downloaded and came in using TeamViewer, and messed with his PC. Traced the domain name back (set as a private individual, anonymised); got the registrar to de-anonymise their whois record due to being a commercial company. Traced the resulting contact details back to UK Companies House, where the guy was an Indian national who was one of two directors of 12 companies set up in a small busine
  • Good Return Rate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RockDoctor ( 15477 ) on Sunday January 08, 2017 @09:55PM (#53630869) Journal
    FTFS : 1.8 million calls ; 15,000 US victims. 120 calls to get a successful scamming.

    That's not too bad a return rate for a scam.

    Therefore the scamming will continue.

"I have more information in one place than anybody in the world." -- Jerry Pournelle, an absurd notion, apparently about the BIX BBS

Working...