THE THANE Police probing the IRS scam operating out of Mira Road have so far received seven direct complaints from US citizens who have been duped in the fraud. Several US citizens had been duped by the fake Internal Revenue Service (IRS) read about the Thane Police busting the scam and contacted them via e-mail and personal contacts in the country.
The complainants have given harrowing accounts of the “threatening calls” they received from Indian call centres asking them for money. In an e-mail received by Thane Police on Tuesday, a 45-year-old US citizen, while congratulating the Thane Police for arresting the ‘frauds’, told them about the ‘six-hour-long call’ in which he was threatened to pay $4600 for settling a tax dispute.
In his complaint to the police, the victim wrote, “I was scared to hang up on the caller since he told me I would be arrested. He had some of my account details that made me scared of disregarding his threat. He then passed on the phone to another caller and this went on for nearly five hours. By the end I was exhausted and agreed to pay the amount. Eventually after giving them the details and making the payment, I got off the phone only six hours later.”
“The callers who realise that the calls are fake hang up within the first few seconds. But those like the 45-year-old who wait for more than a minute on the call are threatened that if they hang up on the caller, the local police will land up at their doorstep to arrest them in half an hour,” said Mukund Hatote, Assistant Commissioner of Police. He added, “The calls went on for a minimum of one hour. But there are several cases where complainants have been kept on phone for anywhere between three to six hours.”
Hatote said that ever since the news about the Thane police bust was published in newspapers in the US, victims have searched for the Thane Police’s e-mail address online and have contacted them. “Some of them who have acquaintances in India got in touch with us through them. While we have received seven complaints so far, we expect many more in the coming days,” the officer said.