India’s Call-Center Talents Put to a Criminal Use: Swindling Americans

The availability of computer-savvy, young, English-speaking job seekers and efficient technology have contributed to the growth in cyberfraud against Americans.

Comments: 282

  1. Why didn't Ms. Broder act faster? Why isn't her agency, the local police or other enforcement entity keeping Dubey and Poojary on a generous retainer to weed out the many other scams that they have first access to? For a relative pittance they could lead authorities to, and/or infiltrate enough operations to save many millions of dollars. Significant ink was wasted here to assure us of the pecking order, and that the turf wars between agencies takes precedence over completing their missions.

  2. You need to understand how India works, which is by bribes. Bribes make crimes go away, or allow them to continue. The level of corruption is beyond an American's comprehension.

  3. Notice how the Privates end up in the stockade while the Generals go free? It's the same all over.

  4. @The Poet McTeagle: I also want to add, that where the young men say "Americans fear their government but Indians do not" is being misinterpreted -- by readers and perhaps deliberately by the author here.

    Indians do not "fear" their government, because it is 100% corrupt. You can bribe your way out of nearly any crime, or to get special favors. The Indian people hold their government in UTTER CONTEMPT. It is not because they RESPECT the government; it is because the government is a pathetic useless sham there.

  5. Every week I get two or three early morning scam calls from India and I am sick of them. I get either the IRS scam or the Microsoft computer virus scam. They have given me very negative feelings toward India.

  6. So you have negative feelings about a country in which few people tried to scam you over phone? I wonder do you also have negative feelings about Americans because some of them tried to scam you? Or if people of a particular race or religion tried to scam you, you have negative feelings towards that race or nationality/religion?

  7. Why doesn't the Indian government stop these scams?

  8. Mitra, not a few Indian scammers. Just watch scam-baiters' youtube videos. There are hundreds of fake call centers in Delhi, Kolkata, Noida, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Hyderabad and other cities. I personally have compiled about two hundred fake tech support centers and have their website URLs.

  9. Americans are very easily led. Just look at the last election. Same thing.

  10. I thought more people voted for Hillary.

  11. A bigger scam just happened which pales the one reported, i.e. the recent election.

  12. "Americans are very easily led."

    Correction: Americans have been very badly led, since 1980, and are now very, very desperate.

    These are the conditions that can lead to political disaster.

  13. An interim solution to this problem is for Americans to hang up immediately upon hearing an Indian-accented voice on the line pitching anything at all or making any sort of demand. That would make it tough on whatever few legitimate businesses there may be using Indians to make outbound calls however that's just too bad for them; India needs to clean up its collective act. It's gotten to the point where just about the only Indians I'm willing to talk to are those in tech support to whom I've been transferred by front-end personnel at legitimate businesses such as Verizon.

  14. "An interim solution to this problem is for Americans to hang up immediately upon hearing an Indian-accented voice on the line..."

    That's what I do, and what everyone I've talked to about this does (except for the ones who should obscenities first).

    I don't know anyone who will listen to an Indian who calls them on the phone.

  15. If I don't recognize the number on my caller ID I don't answer. If we would all do this, they would stop. But they prey on, as the story said, newly arrived immigrants who do not understand that the IRS will never ever call you to resolve a problem. The IRS only contacts people by mail.

  16. I don't answer any phone call unless I recognize the number. If someone really wants to get ahold of me they will, otherwise the scammers and cold-callers can try their luck elsewhere.

  17. Our phone companies have to take some responsibility for allowing scammers, spammers, etc. from accessing people. If privacy is a right, we need some help.

  18. Agreed. At this point, with the ubiquity of cell phones, it should be no problem for phone companies to identify the originating numbers that produce these calls, using similar technology to your e-mail provider's spam blocker, and send you a text message as the phone rings saying "Suspect Call" or something similar.

  19. Our phone carrier does offer a service that screens calls. The incoming numbers deemed as scammers ring once and then stop. I'd prefer zero rings, but at least this is a start. Between the Indian IRS scams and the credit card interest scams, I was getting 10 to 12 nuisance calls per day.

  20. Actually, phone companies have tried and even have groups trying to figure out what to do. Problem is that the scammers hack legitimate numbers - for example, once a week my phone rings with my number as the caller ID!

  21. One comment only

    Bring these jobs home
    End of problem

  22. You want American-based scammers?

  23. Eh, how exactly would that stop this? Everyone will hang up on anyone with a slight accent?

  24. At least we wouldn't have to worry about extradition problems.

  25. So these whistleblowers went first to the IRS, who laughed at them and then had to harass the FTC to get anything done about a massive extortion racket.

    This is the same US government that purports that Edward Snowden should have used proper reporting channels before exposing the criminal actions of the NSA to Greenwald and Poitras and which now will not grant him a pardon.

  26. @CI - That's completely irrelevant. The article is about scamming operation call centers in India.

  27. It's also about the US government's incompetent, ignorant response to multiple warnings from whistleblowers.

  28. If you have a land line, get Caller ID and voice mail. When the phone rings, don't answer it if you don't recognize the caller.

  29. The scammers all use software to spoof their caller IDs. I received several of those calls, and every one of them had a fake caller ID.

    In fact, all scammers, whether in India or the US, whether pitching the IRS scam or anything else, spoof their caller IDs.

    From my research, you need to have them call an 800 or other toll-free number to defeat the spoofing software.

  30. If you happen to answer, be rude. They will only play you if they think they can.

  31. Don't answer your cel either.

  32. An entire article about a $100M scam and two dudes. Not a word about the kingpin of the racket.

  33. Probably another business associate of the president elect. People are talking, but we can't be sure until we see his tax returns. Maybe it's nothing, but you never know.

  34. Hey, Trump is NOT in the telecom business.

    It was a pleasure, correcting your fake-ness.

  35. To say that 'India had no reputation as a large-scale exporter of fraud in the past'
    is highly misleading and incorrect.

  36. My list of blocked numbers in my iPhone grows daily thanks to these types of scam calls. However, every once in a while, I choose to answer the call, listen to the first moment or two of their pitch, and then I hang up. Immediately after that, I call them back (with my own number disguised), hang up, call back again, hang up, call back again, hang up - you get the picture. Of course I only do this if I am some place with nothing else to do - like sitting in my car as I fill the car with gas, or sitting in the doctor's office lobby.

    One time, with one of these IRS Treasury calls, I was particularly incensed, knowing that these scammers were going to victimize more gullible people. So I called them back, and lectured the guy who answered. He hung up. So I called back again - and lucky me, the same guy answered the phone. Again, another lecture, and I worked to shame him as much as I could. He hung up. Yeah, I called again - and, again, the same guy. This time I pointed out to him the sad futility of his life, pointing out how he clearly had some basic skills - good enunciation, good tone of voice - and how he could be working a legitimate job if he wanted to, yet he was pursuing life as a scam artist. He broke down crying, saying he had to pay his bills - but he got no sympathy from me. That brought to an end my interaction with these IRS Treasury scam calls and only this article brought it all to my mind again. The last thing these two guys deserve are US visas.

  37. Yes, but think - once they're here they too will begin receiving these scam calls. Karma's a bi***.

  38. I do not support those who make these criminal calls. And if I or someone I know lost money to them, I suspect I would be very angry.
    On the other hand... I have certainly known people who didn't have the money to pay their bills.
    It is possible to be angry at the behavior, and compassionate toward the person.

  39. While making one scammer in India cry may seem satisfying, it's utterly futile and a waste of time. There are 1.2 billion more where he came from.

  40. It's truly shocking that these two whistle-blowers, who's helped untold thousands of Americans at great personal risk, haven't already been offered visas.

  41. Why? We didn't give visas to translators who helped us in the Middle East, at great peril. We only give visas to wealthy people from China and Russia who are willing to pay $500K for condos.

  42. They have no morals; we don't want them.

  43. Why should they be? India is a growing democracy and they have education and skills and know English. India needs them, as honest and decent skilled workers for the future!

    EVERYONE cannot come to the US; it is not a reward for being nice or honest and the boys are not in any danger. India is a peaceful, free democratic state. They also have families in India that are probably large and very close knit.

  44. WOW, it seems that most commenters really have no clue as to how the modern world works. The "telephone" company has no power in this. Bringing the call center back to the states will not stop this. Being smart stops this. They hope for getting a greedy American on the phone who will chance anything that sounds too good.

  45. "They hope for getting a greedy American on the phone who will chance anything that sounds too good. "

    I don't get it, these don't sound good at all. They threaten you with impossible lawsuits/jail over nonexistent debt. I think you opened up a canned tirade in the wrong area.

  46. Many scams depend on greed, but these depend on threats. To people gullible enough to think the President is a Muslim coming to take their guns and a pizzeria is a clandestine pedophilia haven for Democrats, threats from the IRS demanding money on iTunes cards must seem reasonable.

  47. Being smart and on this thread does not stop this. Being smart and reading this story or any number of stories elsewhere that have flagged this scam does not stop this, as the scammers depend only on finding a handful of vulnerable marks.
    Observer is right in that the telephone company has no power in this. Neither, it appears here, does the government, since at least 70 percent of calls to my land line are violations of its Do-Not-Call law, and easily half of those are violations of some other law as well.
    Until reading this story, I thought the only entities capable of enforcing both Do-Not-Call and fraud laws were the banks and credit card companies. Indeed, "the bank lady tried to stop" Ms. Desai. But the financial sector, maybe in exchange for the next loosening of regulations, could head things off even earlier with the electronic equivalent of an exploding dye pack that would expose the crooks when they try to collect.
    Who else could conceivably step in? Apple, evidently, since one of their products has acquired an off-label use as currency. Perhaps while making phones in China, Apple could show some patriotism and help out Americans with an iTunes honey pot (even as it hides out from the real IRS in Ireland).

  48. Shouldn't the criminals in this story be extradited to the US for prosecution? If they believe we are fearful of government here, let us show them why we are that way.

  49. Except that you needn't be, unless you've done something illegal. Arbitrary government harassment of citizens is far more prevalent in many other, authoritarian, countries. We have it pretty good in the US, by comparison. Perhaps Indians, and others, are reading their fill of right-wing media and other electioneering provocations in order to form the erroneous impression of a government run amok - something that is actually far from reality.

  50. Extradited to the US? Talk about rewarding bad behavior.

  51. JSB reply to your comment -
    "We have it pretty good in the US, by comparison. Perhaps Indians, and others, are reading their fill of right-wing media and other electioneering provocations in order to form the erroneous impression of a government run amok - something that is actually far from reality."

    correction: We HAD it pretty good in the US - until Trump -
    "erroneous impression of a government run amok?
    electioneering provocations?
    something that is actually far from reality?
    NOT far from reality - in fact 4 yrs of Trump will BE OUR REALITY..

  52. As my cell phone provider, Verizon, does have the ability to block the robocalls, and yet they don't. Why? Are they profiting from the massive robo-call volumes??

  53. Yes.

  54. It's not a robocall.

  55. The call centers have sophisticated technology that allows them to "pick" a new telephone number for every outbound call.

    So the carriers can't block the numbers because there's a new # for every call.

  56. An almost identical 'scam' has been operating in Australia for the last few years, with people (with asian or indo-asian accents) claiming to be from the tax office trying to frighten their victims with threats of prosecution. A related fraud involves threats regarding summary offences or unpaid fines, with the caller claiming to be from a police agency. The calls are tailored to local practices and involve a reasonable amount of on-ground research, suggesting some organisational sophistication. The local operations often use wire-transfers to shuffle and hide the money.
    A reversal of the tax threat scam is to state that the victim is due a tax refund and ask for bank details to make payment. With similar results.
    I suspect some variation of this is being aimed at all western countries with suitably complex bureaucracies.

  57. And also: English speaking countries. It may be lesser in Europe, because Indians do not all know French or German or Swedish. But nearly every educated Indian knows how to speak English -- remember, they were once a British colony! English is taught and spoken EVERYWHERE in India. I have very rarely met an Indian in the US, whether immigrant or tourist, who does not speak very good English (albeit with an accent).

    So they target ENGLISH SPEAKING COUNTRIES, like the US, Canada and Australia.

  58. CC, you must be joking about "accents." Dell took big grief for using Hindi-accented "help desk" staff -- it was joke on SNL.

    They don't understand American-English quirks and slang, like "Yo!" and "yo momma."

  59. People need to know that the IRS does not call. They send out a letter. If a person is not certain that the contact is legitimate they ought to contact the IRS by phone using the 800 number on the proper website or on their IRS income tax return information packet.

  60. Thank you, that is correct. The IRS or any government agency, will NEVER EVER EVER call you like that. They will ALWAYS use the US mail, on official letterhead.

    This is also true for any "prizes" you may have won. If you ever win a real prize, even a minor one -- they will contact you BY MAIL. Not on the phone.

    A real prize from a legit company will NEVER EVER EVER require you to buy anything, spend any more money, or give out ANY personal information -- on the phone or elsewhere. They will MAIL you any checks or prizes, after determining your mailing address is correct -- the whole thing will be conducted BY THE US MAIL.

    One interesting thing to note: while not perfect, scams by US MAIL can be prosecuted under the stiffest of laws by the office of the Postmaster General. So this is much rarer than scams from the internet or phone calls, which are policed much more lightly (the internet, not at all -- it is a virtual SEWER).

  61. "a tech scam, which warned Americans that their computer had been infected by a virus"

    My 90 year old father was tormented by these people for a year. He's semi-senile so he believed they were going to fix his computer and he gave them his log in and password. And he paid them for lifetime service on his PC.

    Then they started calling and threatening him to send more money. Said they would destroy his PC. I had Montgomery County Police (MD) come to the house and provided them the contact info. They said they see this all the time and there was "nothing they could do."

    I told them I had contacted the FTC but there was no one to speak with -- only a Contact Us form -- as if that would help.

    I begged Dad to stop answering the phone but he didn't because he's lonely and that's what his generation does when the phone rings.

    Returned after a 3 day trip to find receipts on the table for $300 worth of iTunes cards on the table. Dad doesn't even know what iTunes is.

    So a feeling of total helplessness. No legal authority in this country is able to protect our elderly from this kind of fraud.

    ~

  62. I think, Apple (owner of iTunes card), Microsoft and telecom companies can do a lot more. US toll free phone numbers get redirected to Indian local phone numbers. Telecom companies should stop their toll free services. Microsoft for their own benefit should pursue the fake Indian tech support companies which claim to be Microsoft or Microsoft partners.

  63. I highly recommend getting your father signed up with NOMOROBO, which will dramatically cut down the number of scam callers.

    You should also look into getting power of attorney, so that you can put limits on his bank and credit card.

  64. At a certain point, if your dad has dementia, you may need to settle him an Assisted Living home (or with you) and remove his access to a phone -- or get him a simple cellphone (like they sell at AARP) with the most minimal functions. Or remove his credit cards.

    Seniors are very vulnerable to this, even ones who are in their right minds, and SCAMMERS KNOW THIS. Seniors with dementia are easy pickings. It is up to you to protect your dad!

    If they only got $300 off of him....that was pretty minor and you are lucky. Most scammers try to get thousands of dollars.

  65. Since they work on commission, keep them on the phone as long as possible. Make them believe that you are falling for the scam and drag it out as long as possible ("Wait, I need to find my reading glasses so I can rite this down" or "Hold on, there is someone at the door. I think it is the UPS man. I will be right back." etc) With a little creativity, you should be able to hold them on the line for at least a half hour. Finally, you can either: 1) Tell them that you will do as they instruct (so they will waste time searching for your payment)or 2) Say something really nasty to them and hang up. If you so the latter, you will usually get a call back from a supervisor telling you that you are a bad person (no soup for you).

  66. Agree, waste their time but at the same time do protect yourself by not letting them access your PC (unless you make a VM, a vitual machine). Also not disclose any info about you. Keep notes. I have watched many scam-baiters' videos in Youtube (search tech support scam in Youtube)

  67. For American consumers, the answer is simple: do not answer the phone unless you see a number that you recognize.

  68. Or hear the voice of someone on your message machine

  69. Many seniors still have landlines, with no upgraded services, so they do not see who is calling (caller ID) until they PICK UP THE PHONE.

    My elderly aunt, who passed last year, had 3 phones in her apartment -- kitchen, living room and her bedroom -- and they were ALL pristinely preserved ROTARY DIAL PHONES. Seriously! She had never changed nor upgraded them. They still worked fine, but no features of any kind but dialing out or answering the ring.

    She did not even have an answering machine, and I rather doubt she would have known how to set one up or use one. We offered to give her one, and set it up FOR HER, or to get her at least some touch-tone phones -- but she absolutely refused. This was what she had had forever, and what she was used to, and she had no intention of changing.

  70. Yeah. I do that. Boy, does it piss off legitimate callers. If it's important they'll leave a message.

  71. Wait — Did I just read that Delta Airlines pays its India-based phone representatives $150 a month?

  72. As the article correctly point out, that is a mediocre but viable living in INDIA. Costs of food, shelter, utilities, etc. are incredibly low in India, because of the vast population (1.2 BILLION people) and no minimum wage laws.

    You can actually live on $150 a month there, and $300 a month would be a very middle class lifestyle.

  73. Yes, you did. And now you know why the customer service from Delta makes it one of the most loathed airlines around.

  74. I don't think these are India's best and brightest running these scams, I have received many calls, and their accent (vs comverizonamazoncast's support) is a zillion times more noticeable.

  75. I ,too, called the US Treasury with the number I was provided with on my answering machine from a perpetrator of this scam. The agent was totally disinterested and simply noted the information that I had been scammed __ report to some kind of bureau and no interest in the phone number. (And you guys publish an article about how wonderful Government bureaucrats are -- IMO they need to behave towards the public properly... and there needs to be an agency to take complaints, seriously. (Your senator's office (staffed by 20 year olds) also does not much so far as I can tell.) SHAMEFUL. And the lady at the bank should have taken the Indian lady into hand and called the police and the Treasury department. This one was preventable. Fear is a horrible thing.

  76. i used to think the most dangerous American invention was the atomic bomb. As it turns out, another American military invention, Arpanet which evolved into the Internet, may be our undoing.

    Nuclear weapons are too powerful to actually use. Digital technology can be weaponized by anyone. Now our Russian enemy uses it to install puppets in the White House and State Department. India allows huge businesses like those described here to victimize our most vulnerable citizens.

    We all laughed a few days ago when Trump said we should go back to using handwritten notes sent by courier. But maybe he's on to something. I would send this comment that way if I could find my sealing wax.

  77. An interesting fact is that most, if not all, of the IT personnel working in this country have been replaced by workers from India brought over on contract by two large Indian owned firms. The others are from Israel.

  78. Low level scams involving what amounts to chump change are like a Hydra and will never cease to exist. Wall Street's fraudulent mortgage scams were far, far greater, and contributed to the 2008 recession, yet the CEOs got nothing but golden parachutes.

  79. I agree, those are far more serious and far-reaching, and the people behind those Wall Street and big bank scams -- let's call them "The Banksters" -- should have been indicted and prosecuted and faced stiff jail time.

    However, OUR PRESIDENT the last 8 years -- one Barack Hussein Obama -- instead decided to "work with them" because "they knew how the system worked" and put many Goldman Sachs alums into his cabinet (hello, Tim Geithner!).

    So nothing was done, and now, the statute of limitations on their massive crimes and greed and thefts has expired. THANKS OBAMA!

    I do want to add that though telephone scams such as these are lesser than the major crimes of Wall Street and banks....to an INDIVIDUAL who loses the $17,000 that is their entire life savings, it is a very huge them. It might well ruin their life, lose them their house or apartment, put them on welfare or food stamps.

  80. "However, OUR PRESIDENT the last 8 years -- one Barack Hussein Obama -- instead decided to "work with them" because "they knew how the system worked" and put many Goldman Sachs alums into his cabinet (hello, Tim Geithner!)."
    -------
    And what, pray tell, do you think the Republicans would have done had they won the White House?

  81. @MJ - The comments of @Concerned Citizen are often laden with hateful (and largely inaccurate) posts about President Obama. Notice the use of the President's given middle name, meant to scare those prejudiced against immigrants. @Concerned will need to find a new target to dislike after January 20th.

  82. We always knew that India had plenty of tricksters, cheats, and liars, but then the country we shamelessly admire goes ahead and elects one as their President!

  83. Every time my husband and I see an unfamiliar number, most likely a scam, we say "It's Brian" --one of my favorite fake names. I don' t even answer then landline anymore. I thought there was a do not call list. I seem to remember signing up for that periodically. I say periodically because I keep going back to the site because I continue to get calls. Ugh.
    I would imagine this problem causes a lot of people to drop their landline service completely.

  84. I think the govt no call list works....at least most of the time for me but you need to report things as they happen...

  85. Our answering machine tells us it is usually Unavaila Bill.

  86. They scam you on your cellphone just as easily.

  87. There needs to be an effort to educate the public about these thieves and to inform people that the government does not make these types of calls.

  88. A series of public information commercials -- on prime time TV and on the internet -- would go a long way to let people know THIS IS A SCAM and no government agency contacts you this way, nor asks you to "buy 30 iTunes gift cards" to pay your back taxes.

    I'd target TV shows that have a lot of older viewers, and for the non-English speaking, perhaps foreign language channels.

  89. Bring on the PSAs!

  90. A pretty glaring example of the type of globalized "blow back" we can expect from society's over saturation and dependence on technology. There's such a massive "glut" of tech savvy individuals around the world clamouring for the good life and seeking an end to their oppressive poverty that any form of criminality can be rationalized as the "lesser of two evils" as long as it makes money.

  91. But these young men are skilled and educated for their society -- they are not untouchables or the poorest of the poor!

    And they are earning what is a middle class income FOR INDIA -- it is not fair to compare it to the US. Costs in India are a tiny fraction of what they are here in the US -- rents, food, etc. And likely, due to the culture, at their age they live at home for free.

    Most of these young men -- excepting these two brave and honorable young men featured here -- simply want "more". They want a western style "good life" with lots of money and possession. Even these two guys, who acted very honorably, want not to improve life in India but to immigrate to the US.

  92. This is news?

  93. Count me among those who educate these call center employees on the fine points of American vulgarity, usually by requesting they perform an anatomically impossible feat and asking them to describe what they see.

  94. "I told him to be fruitful and multiply.
    But not exactly in those words."

  95. I was able to get the Microsoft scammers to stop by saying in a stern voice 'OK, Detective - you're on the line? This is the fraudulent call I want you to trace" and pressing any button on the keypad, which emits a tone that sounds like the start of a recording.

    I am convinced they target older people, thinking we are too stupid to realize these are phony calls. I have no sympathy for these scammers and hope they're all locked up, bosses and callers. If you know it's a fraud and keep calling because "[t]he U.S. cheats the whole world" (an idiotic justification), you deserve whatever consequences ensue.

  96. the govt no call list can weed out many of these calls

  97. I have no sympathy either -- I get called and targeted all the time, perhaps because I am over 60 now. I'll try your little deception next time!

    The most typical scam call I get is from young men with heavy Indian accents. They claim to be "Mike" or "Steven" and tell me they are from Microsoft or Hewlett Packard or Apple, and they tracked me down from a purchase of software or hardware, and that I need to "upgrade" and they will do it from their remote location -- but of course, I must give them my passwords and login information.

    I know they are going for things like bank accounts, credit cards and the like. So I hang up, or annoy them (not as cleverly as you, alas). But it goes on and on. It must be a dozen places running the SAME scam, not just one big place.

    I think the typical victims are elderly, or foreign-born immigrants, people who are confused, don't speak good English or fearful of government. It's just a deeply shameful thing, and it should be stopped entirely. There should be a way to report these places and have them blocked.

  98. I once told a persistent caller that I would give him what he wanted, but he had to be really, really careful....my son was in the Mafia "and he likes to hurt people". No more calls.

  99. The young man's observation that Americans fear their government much more than Indians do is very interesting. The land of the free indeed.

  100. I believe you are taking his comment the wrong way. Indians do not "fear" their government because they have rights or are respected -- they do not fear the government because it is very, very corrupt and if you have money, you can bribe officials and get out of even serious crimes.

    It would be more accurate if he had said "Indians feel utter contempt for their government".

  101. The next sentence belies your point. "It's easy to get out of anything in India." What he's saying is that, if you have means, you do not have to fear the consequences of breaking the law there. Murderers and rapists can buy their way out of prosecution, assuming that they don't attack people who have the money to counter-bribe the officials. Some rural police officers have even refused to investigate serious crimes unless the victims paid for the investigation.

    Corruption is very much alive in the U.S., but if you break the law and the feds are gunning for you then you have every reason to be afraid. And that's a good thing.

  102. A bribe (in India) means avoidance of arrest and prosecution. Perhaps, even a cut of action!

  103. You take American IT Jobs and your Customers data and give it to somebody who has no qualms about stealing from Americans and this is what you get. These Thieves are probably also failed programmers. Lying on their Resume and CV is also common practice. I have had the miserable experience of working with inept/incompetent programmers since Y2K. This is a Direct Result of American Corporate Greed and the gutting of American staffed IT departments.

  104. Many of the tech support scammers in India have just done high school education. They go to English accent enhancement course. In fact on the last day of the course they go through the "Christian fake name ceremony" where they introduce themselves in the class as "Michael, Jessica,Ron, Annie etc.

    In their fake support job, they are given a script to follow by giving for example to run MS Windows commands. The ordinary American is fooled into believing the resultant output of those commands are virus or external hackers.

  105. Willy Sutton lives!

  106. beware of calls saying they are microsoft tech support - blocking your e mail etc.
    ransom ware, etc: all these calls are from india.

  107. So what!

    Other than actually having your credit card info stolen or your bank account hacked, if you are stupid enough to fall for these scams you deserve what you get.

  108. No one *deserves* to be taken advantage of like this. Period.

  109. Sorry, Howard, not everyone caught up in these scams is stupid and deserves to be defrauded. Spare a thought at least for older people who may be confused and easily frightened.

  110. Until it happens to you.

  111. I've had quite a few of these calls, purportedly from Microsoft and have called them to see if these were bogus. Microsoft said they never call customers "cold," so it should be ignored.
    What I find so disturbing about these and similar calls is a growing sense that it is not clear what is real and what is fake. Like the "fake news" that has been discussed in recent NY Times articles, these fraudulent calls have a disorienting effect because what is a lie and what is the truth becomes blurred. It's hard to know what and whom to trust. In that situation, we are more prone to reach out to some authoritarian figure to rescue us from all the uncertainty.
    I've been trying to think of a term for this evocation of confusion between true and untrue and the best I could think of is the "Gracy Allen Syndrome" in which an endless flow of mindless babble has the dizzying effect of confusion.

  112. One way to handle it is to say with a heavy accent, "no speak english, one moment please", put the phone down, call out a fake name, yell "telephone", then leave them hanging.

  113. Or you can facilitate an extremely loud loud whistle.

  114. Since the NSA is listening to all these calls anyway, why not give them the actually useful job of stopping the scams.

  115. 1) The IRS never, ever initiates a phone call re one's financial matters. Contact is always through a letter. 2) Never provide personal information to anyone who has called you. Instead, if you think the contact is legitimate, ask for a number where you can call them back. This also gives you time to research the number you've been given. Unfortunately, be suspicious of any contacts that solicit your personal information.

  116. It's standard practice these days for legitimate US-based collection service agents to say "in order to verify that I'm speaking to the right person, could you please provide the last four digits of your social security number?" at the very beginning of the call, prior to identifying themselves or what account they're trying to collect. It's creepy and trains people to expect this sort of firm invasion. Bonus: I'm sure they justify the practice internally claiming they do it to comply with the FDCPA's prohibition against communication with third parties. As if third parties regularly answering a person's cell phone and pretending to be them is a thing that not only regularly happens, but results in a complaint and sanction against the collection agency.

    You are correct the IRS never initiates a phone call, but the Dept. of Education outsources collections to private businesses that behave just like all the other collections agencies. The scam described in this article doesn't become distinguishable from standard practice in the US until they get to the gift cards (because the "legit" guys will take a payment right over the phone).

  117. Got a call from an Andrew McGowen, supposedly an FBI agent informing me that my IRS tax issues will cause me to be arrested in the next 24 hours if I did not send a gift card loaded with $2,500 immediately. His heavily accented English didn't seem right for someone of Irish heritage

    Having a little fun, I wasted as much of his time as I could, ending with a question.

    How is the weather in Mumbai today? Silence.

  118. If only everyone was as savvy as you.
    No sarcasm.

  119. As a young man I was trained as a collections agent by a major retailer. I was taught all manner of tactics to get people to pay their bills. We were paid a bonus and promoted if we got tough. There was no Fair Debt Collections Practices Act then but still there were laws and our employer taught us to ignore them. I helped set-up call centers in Madras, Bangalore and Bombay, so far back those places still had those old names. Over the years I've also interviewed for jobs in the U.S. that involve scamming people over the phone. Never took the job though. This kind of fraud doesn't just originate overseas. We need a stronger Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, yet the President-Elect wants to gut the office.

  120. TH Williams--Yeah, the Office of Ethics will come later, when people are lulled into thinking all is well..

  121. I'm sorry, but to your point, the government has all kinds of agencies and departments for fraud - they do nothing. I cannot for the life of me understand why they exist when they do nothing. Even the do not call center doesn't work. I get 10 calls a day across 3 phone lines minimum. IRS calls, computer issue calls, etc. etc. Even 'Rachel' is back to her tricks trying to get your credit card info; Rachel is the one group that was supposedly 'caught.'

    WE DONT NEED MORE AGENCIES IN DC. WE NEED THE ONES THAT EXIST TO DO SOMETHING, TO HAVE AN IMPACT, TO ACTUALLY TAKE CONSUMER GRIEVANCES AND WORK ON THEM. But we don't need more agencies whose budgets are in the billions, but are incapable of doing their job. I say eliminate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we've already got departments that are supposed to do something. Obama never got this. He saw the inefficiencies in the existing departments, but was afraid of political fallout if he criticized them. So, he just created new ones. That, my friends, is the definition of insanity. (waste too)

  122. Well, he's supposedly open to changing his mind. If he really cared, he would do all he can to stop these scams.

  123. We get calls from India like that about twice a week. "US Pharmacy" wanting to "refill our prescriptions". I always ask how the weather is in Bangalore, or Mumbai, or Kolkata. "No no, we are in North Carolina!" Uh huh.

  124. Actually, considering how corrupt North Carolina is becoming, it is possible they are there! Charlotte is a major banking center and we know how the banks have all been behaving in recent years!!!

  125. When I'm bored I play a game with the tech guys from "Windows" who want to fix my computer, to see how long I can keep them on the phone.

  126. I actually enjoy these calls. Each time I receive one it's a competition to see how long I can keep the caller on the phone.

  127. Keep a loud whistle near by your phone for real fun!

  128. I DO think that hacking the American governments and banks is more challenging than swindling ordinary people if you were indeed talented enough.

  129. If it were in the financial interests of the large telecom corporations to end this, they would find a way to filter out theses calls. If it were in the interests of our federal government to actually protect the majority of its citizens, this would have ended a long time ago.

  130. Tech support scam from India is huge. There are hundreds of fake call centers in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Chennai, Hyderbad, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Dehardun and other cities. They scan innocent Americans, British and Australians. Microsoft, FTC, FBI and telecom companies need to do far more to stop this. The Indian scammers when exposed, use very filthy language. Just see hundreds of Youtube videos made by scam-baiters by searching for the term "tech support scam".

  131. In case you haven't been paying attention: We're going to get ever less regulation from now on. Don't expect anything at all from that next government that might remotely benefit the average citizen. All of government will now officially be working for the 1% exclusively.

  132. My father, vaguely quoting a famous aphorism, used to say "no one ever went broke overestimating the intelligence of the American public." These scams are nothing compared to the Trump scam and it's going on before our eyes.

  133. I think that quote can be attributed to H.L. Mencken.

  134. And it was "underestimating the intelligence of the American people."

  135. You mean "underestimating," I think.

  136. I've listened to these scams on YouTube. These scammers utilize extortion and threats of arrest. These people have no remorse. This level of corruption goes straight to the top in India. It's interesting Mr. Poojary and Mr. Dubey mention they're not afraid of the Indian Police.

  137. The first time I received the infamous Microsoft virus call I let the guy walk me through it to see how the scam worked and it was just as I had expected: they (eventually) have you open Event Viewer in which a number of "Errors" can be seen - all of which are normal for Windows - which most users are unaware of.

    First of all, Microsoft will NEVER CALL YOU! (They do not have the phone numbers of tens of millions of Windows PCs owners). When scammers call either tell them you don't even own a computer or that you own a Mac. They'll try to argue with you but give up quickly.

    Lastly, one of the commenters here boasted about calling the scammers back and giving them a hard time. That's highly unlikely as they mask their phone numbers as displayed on your caller ID. Ask yourself: Why on earth would an illegal scammer use a legitimate, traceable phone number?

  138. I disconnected my answering machine some time ago, and will only pick up the phone if I recognize the caller ID.

  139. I'm young enough to know these scams are what they are. My mother is not so I am very thankful she uses a Mac. Not virus proof as Cupertino cult members tell us, but harder to seize control of.

    Another rational, but police lot incorrect, rule of thumb: if someone calls you, speaks very imprecise English, stumbles over your name, calls all computers "personal Windows pc computer" and you can hear the bleed over from a hundred other people in the same room...it's probably a scam from India.

    Sadly for the elderly and less computer savvy, even if these scammers were somehow removed from the mix, there are plenty of criminals right here at home calling around with great reverse mortgage deals or claiming to be a decedent' wife etc.

  140. Sadly, but for the best, my elderly mother is not online, although I think she would enjoy it. She's just too vulnerable.
    Me? Once you go Mac, you never go back. All about the firewall.

  141. Apple tech support people are US based, too..

  142. Great. Most American banks outsource their IT departments to India. How long will it take Indians, who think that "the US cheats the whole world," to graduate from small swindles like those described in this article to much bigger swindles involving US banks.

    Trump, if you are reading this, please do the needful and force the US banks to bring their IT departments back home. (If someone's going to swindle a bank, let it be an American.)

  143. Aren't you wildly extrapolating based on one person's comment in an article? One person out of over a billion people in India? Really?

  144. I agree. We might as well keep the stolen money at home!

  145. The scam operators know the vulnerabilities of poor Hispanics and offer loans to pay up debts or taxes at low interest rates or interest free for a number of months. The caller says his name is "Antonio," "José," or another common Spanish name. They offer a sample of a "miracle" drug or medicine and ask for a credit card number to cover shipping costs. The supposed subscription will be cancelled only if the "client" calls or informs the sender to cancel it, otherwise the credit card will continue to be charged. Many victims cannot detect Indian accents and fall for the scams. The deregulations advocated by Republicans, the erosion of privacy rights, and the elimination of consumer protection agencies have turned this type of scams into big business.

  146. Well, Lara, we should just look at it as a new growth opportunity for jobs thanks to our new Scammer in Chief.

  147. Now I get it, those were the people used to call me and said there was virus on the computer that I was using!!! I hardly use my computer, I'm on my iPhone most of the time. And when they called, I was away from my computer . Every time they called I was the one who pumped them the questions, like: which computer? What brand? How many inches screen? Where did you get my number ? I think they were tired of that and stopped calling me. Phew!

  148. I've gotten many calls from men and women with strong Southeast Asian accents telling me that they were calling from Microsoft because my computer had been compromised in some way. Sometimes I mess with them for a few minutes but not long enough to find out how they would try to get money from me. I can't imagine someone dumb/terrified enough to fall for this one! I've also gotten a few calls from Indians (probably) telling me the US govt wanted to give me $9,000 for being a good citizen and paying my taxes on time. LOL

  149. To a lot of older people who weren't raised on computers there's still a lot of uncertainty about what to do when these scams pop up. When someone, like taday's young computer users for whom they are part of normal life, learns cynicism early on it becomes quickly their nature. It's harder for some of us who have to forget everything contrary to that first, before learning this new normal cynicism for the first time. Maybe in a number of years when these generations are all dead, this cyberstuff will right itself naturally as any other normal part of life does. Nature fixes things for good. New and more laws are just bandaids, but the underlying condition remains.

  150. The Microsoft scam was another huge one. I received calls, as did a close friend, whom I had told about the scam. He told the caller that this was a scam and the caller exploded, and started cussing at him in heavily accented English.

  151. Anyone can be scammed by one thing or another no matter how smart they claim to be, this is why fraud still exists. Everyone has a vulnerability or two. The best things we all can do is to remain vigilant and protect elderly and underage family members.

  152. So let me get this straight: I allegedly owe back taxes to the IRS, and the solution is to buy iTunes cards and give the codes to a total stranger?

    People are really stupid enough to fall for this?

  153. Mostly they are elderly and confused and afraid of getting 'into trouble'. They are not necessarily 'stupid'.

  154. old age + dementia at work.

  155. Yes, sadly they are. But they are also our grandmothers & grandfathers. And they are vulnerable. And one day so will we.
    A little compassion goes a long way.

  156. There are certain demographics more susceptible to telephone and internet scams, including the elderly and recent citizens, but purchasing iTune cards to give to the IRS? It's incredible that anyone under any circumstances would not see through this scam. I wonder how many of these gullible victims voted for the president elect.

  157. Authority -- in the form of a phone call from a serious and to-be-feared government agency -- can and does freak people out. They may or may NOT have been guilty of anything, but if the IRS is ostensibly "coming after you," you better pay attention, go along, do what they want. Because you don't want to wind up in prison. Even if you are 85 years old and your taxes are AOK. That's how many call recipients think. So the response? Compliance and fear. This fear and folding in the face of authority is what concerns me the most, because it does illustrate how we humans, Americans can and may and will crumble under government power. We all need to learn and exercise our resistance and intelligence muscles on the financial and political fronts, particularly at this time.

  158. I worked with people with Alzheimer's. Yes, they might get confused and scared and fall for a scam.

  159. Probably not that many. The scammers targeted immigrants who come from fairly corrupt systems. They would not necessarily know with certainty that the U.S. government doesn't take iTunes gift cards as payment. They might also have thought that this was a corrupt official soliciting a bribe to get them out of trouble, which would explain the sketchiness.

    The system can seem pretty arbitrary anyway. I recall the story of an a court clerk who insisted that immigrants about to be sworn in as U.S. citizens wear formal dress -- to the point of insisting people run out and buy suits with money they didn't have. The only person who called her out on it was a person who'd been raised in America and knew the clerk didn't have the right to create and enforce a dress code. A million interractions like that and how are you to know what is legitimate and what's not?

  160. Fools and their money are soon parted. The government of the US, on the other hand, really does very little to educate people about how to spot and avoid a scam. Also, people who have elderly relatives with access to money need to be on the lookout for scammers, of which there are many, who prey on the elderly. A few well placed advertisements informing people that the IRS and other government agencies NEVER operate this way may be more effective than all of the raids in India, where there is an endless supply of cheap technology and even cheaper labor. How about an ad during the Superbowl, or some other large widely followed event or two?

  161. Actually, the State Department does have a website regarding these scams. The problem is, like so much of government, these services exist but are generally unknown to the public.

  162. Is it fair to describe a cognitively impaired old man as a fool?

  163. Public Service Ads? What a great idea. Too bad they died with the rest of our nation in 1980.

  164. My solution: Screen all your calls using caller ID, and don't pick up on any call from a number that you don't recognize or a person that you don't know. Anyone with something legit to communicate will leave a message, and you can then check them or the company they work for out before responding at your leisure. Finally, if a caller comes up dirty via an Internet check, block the number to prevent them from calling you again.

  165. Perfect solution for younger, tech-literate people Sadly, however, many elderly folks, who are no doubt the preferred targets of telephone scammers, would hear you say "caller ID" and think it's something you put around your dog's neck in case she gets lost.

  166. As retirees, living in South Florida--ground zero for such scams--we surely have gotten our share of the "IRS Calling"; but, this is the first that I have ever head that I can pay my Tax Bill, next April 15, by just slipping some iTunes cards in the Return. Perhaps those Bit Coins just gummed the Government's computers up too much.

    They probably feel that, out of every 100 calls, they make contact with people who are too lost in the past, shall we say, to separate a scam from reality. That must, in fact, be their targets. Unfortunately, those people probably should not be living alone or, perhaps, just not have access to cash, bank account numbers or credit card information.

    https://thetruthoncommonsense.com

  167. “they actually are really afraid of their government,” ... in America they are afraid. We just need to tell them, ‘You are messing with the federal government,’ and that is all.”

    Sad commentary on the Republic that is for the people, by the people, of the people.

    We need a new social contract where people love their rulers, not fear them.

  168. A nation in which half the voters don't trust the government, are so afraid their closets are full of guns, rabidly believe in fake/Fox news and warped right wing conspiracy ideology, vote for a Party led by a narcissist sociopath that is the political equivalent of an organized crime syndicate....that nation's citizens are prime sucker bait for every scam artist on the planet.

  169. I believe I have been a victim of a similar scam. I received a message on my computer saying that I needed to contact the Tech Center immediately because of a virus. I did. To make a long story short, these Indian young men convinced me that my computer had viruses and to help me I had some options. I paid them $149 for an annual contract. They have been harassing me from time to time ever since.

  170. Ooof. Time to disconnect.

  171. The same IRS people who laughed away these whistleblowers are also "auditing" Donald Trump's tax returns?

    What does it take to get a special prosecutor or independent counsel appointed to take over and conclude the IRS audit of Trump's taxes?

    It's unconscionable that a government agency should be put in such a compromising position as to "audit" the tax returns of the incoming president. There may well be evidence of tax evasion, racketeering and other crimes by Trump and associates.

    Need to appoint BEFORE JANUARY 20 a special counsel to audit Trump's tax returns.

  172. I've gotten those fake IRS calls more than 30 times in the past year. Sometimes I play along and act scared and I give them a fake bank account number. I'm retired so its kind of fun to play along and tie them up for an hour on the phone. Other times I just hang up. Lots of times they leave a scary message telling me I must call back and ask for "Agent 26" and they say if I don't I will be prosecuted.

    I also get phony calls from foreign sounding people who want me to turn on my computer and type in a certain web address (so they can get remote access to my computer).

  173. next time ask them to send the bill to 1600 Pennsylvania avenue.

  174. I am glad for you that have the time & sense to waste their time. Please help your fellow retirees do the same.

  175. @Ignatius - You do realize you're encouraging people to waste their own time as well? Just don't answer or hang up as soon as you realize it's a scam.

  176. So this is how this works?: "Hey, this is the IRS. Our records show u are owing the federal government back-taxes for 2012 and 2013. We will freeze your bank accounts and throw yall outta your home tomorrow morning unless u head to Walmart NOW, buy 2000 dollars worth of iTune cards and send us the codes!"

    And then those folks obligingly drive to the store, buy iTune credit, and phone the codes through?

    Good for them!

  177. Who in their right mind thinks that the IRS would want iTunes cards as payment? Or prepaid debit cards? Or would expect you to wire thousands of dollars to "Jennifer", who apparently has no last name? Even this woman's bank tried to tell her it was a fraud.

    How much publicity do these scams have to garner before people learn? I'm a techno-nudge who doesn't watch much TV and even I am able to determine when an email isn't really from PayPal or the phone call isn't from Microsoft. Heck, even my 93 year old Mom is so aware of telephone scams she obsessively checks caller ID before answering the phone.

    Time to get over the fear based way you live your lives. Take a breath, engage your brain, call a lawyer or even a level headed friend before you give up your entire savings to a voice on the other end of the phone.

  178. Today I am far more concerned about the corruption of Congress, who voted yesterday (and will vote again within hours) to destroy the independent Congressional Office of Ethics.

    Ask yourself why any responsible politician wouldn't want an office he or she could point to as verification that safeguards are in place to prevent wholesale corruption

    P.S, 90% of this Mumbai-based crime would e eliminated it the victims just remembered that IRS, FBI and other federal agencies do not open cases on the phone.

    They always get in touch with you by mail. - The Colonel

  179. American banks and credit card companies have entrusted Indian call centers with the most confidential financial details of Americans' lives.

    These Indian call centers and their low wage employees have people's social security numbers, bank account numbers, drivers license numbears and so much more. They are beyond the reach of American law.

    Nothing could be easier than for these call center employees to sell information to criminals and identity thieves or to use the information themselves.

    It should be illegal for American companies to export this information. Those companies that do should be fully responsible for the harms caused by offshoring American call center jobs.

  180. So very easy to avoid being taken in by these phone scams: just don't answer the phone any time you don't recogise the caller. Then look up the number on Google and see if it's been reported already as a scammer, and if you feel so moved, and if you are registered on both state and Federal "do not call" lists, report it on fcc.gov as a complaint, You'll never hear from them again if you take the last step.

  181. The only defense is to stop answering the phone, or immediately hang up when you hear its a sales call. Direct phone selling/scamming is an old game, but now its a real annoyance for those of us who rely on cell phones for clients to call us. The scammers have moved from hard wire to cell numbers, they keep "improving " their skill.

    The cell providers could do much more, but they don't want to spend any money to enforce against misuse, they make money with the increase in calls.

    Fed laws are totally inadequate.

  182. I don't even answer the phone anymore at all. I only have it in case I need to call the Fire Dept.

  183. I am on both lists. That works well for legitimate companies, not so well for offshore sites like this, who can simply change their numbers. The FCC cannot handle the vast scope of telemarketers and scammers, and a few years back offered a large sum of money to anyone - even hackers - who could develop software to eradicate it. That alone shows the lack of understanding, that they thought one software program would magically end telemarketing and scams. Like piracy and computer malware, it will never end but will be a continual tit-for-tat fight. There is no answer within our current technology, and the bad guys are always one step ahead of us.

    I can't even get rid of TCF Bank bill collectors - if they even are that - calling my cell phone multiple times per day, every day, from multiple numbers. I've had this number for almost ten years, never had a TCF Bank account, or any dealings with them whatsoever. Three years ago they started calling, leaving voicemails because I don't answer calls from anyone I don't know. Always looking for Miss Williams, regarding her past due account. That's not my name, of course. I'll block the calls, and the next day they come from three new numbers: Same voices, same messages, for Miss Williams. Legitimate or not, after three years of never once answering the call or responding to the voicemail, you'd think they'd get the hint, wouldn't you? It's not going to happen - give up.

  184. Per Ron White: "Ya can't fix stupid."

  185. It's not stupid. It's vulnerable.
    And afraid, of the gov't, the IRS, the police etc. it's systemic.

  186. Hate to say this but when anyone who calls me on my 'hardly ever rings' landline, with an obvious foreign accent, I immediately hang up. That is if I even answer it.
    Those with elderly relatives should set up their phones so that only accepted numbers ring through. Just as you can with your emails. Techno predators are daily scheming up new ways to bilk unsuspecting people. The one fraud I can't understand is how do scammers get federal or state income tax returns diverted to them? Can't that be tracked, as to which bank it was deposited into? As the advent of putting everyone on to electronic or cyber 'money' and the push to eliminate a cash society, I worry we'll be inundated with more and more electronic fraud. Yet none of our laws are reflected in this nor have caught up. The telephone 'do no call list' can't even be instituted properly. Ever get your bank account cleaned out? If you haven't, worry, because it WILL happen. And believe me, nobody cares. Can't report the theft to the 'electronic police'. Yet it is theft on a large scale. Cyber thieves are smarter, they don't need guns to rob innocent people.

  187. If your bank account is cleaned out and you did not make the withdrawals, why wouldn't the bank reimburse you? If you made withdrawals at the behest of Apu or Prisha, I suppose you are on your own.

  188. Well once this happens to you, you will never know. When checking into my hotel, on vacation, my card was declined. It was a holiday and I could not get a hold of the bank.
    Yes, you get it back but not right away and you must do a lot of footwork then get your account all straightened out. It took well over a week in my case. But when you have YOUR card skimmed at a restaurant/bar or ATM and you're out of the country, bon chance!
    And even if one does get scammed by Apu, it does not make it right. Don't blame victims of scams.

  189. Globalization is a wonderful thing. Enjoy!

  190. I've got my land line hooked into Nomorobo which allows the phone to ring once before cutting off the call. Somedays, it still rings 5 to 10 times a day. When I pick up a scammer on my cell phone, I hang up and immediate press the "block this caller" feature on the information window to avoid repeat calls from that number, as it presents itself at that time. I'm still frustrated that more cannot be done, but encouraged reading this article to learn about raids in India, and that there is at least one employee of the Federal government monitoring this problem.

    But I am also aware that for me, this is a small inconvenience. The real scam which will steal far more from vulnerable Americans, is what happened in the GOP meeting last night, gutting the ethics rules so the Trump era great kleptocracy can begin.

  191. No surprise people are this gullible, they elected Trump.

  192. An important thing to remember about this and other scams is that they're in their infancy. They don't work as well as they could because most of the time they're not believable to the average person. The scammers have plenty of time and motivation to get better at it.

    I was the lucky recipient of probably 100 of these calls over several years, and I watched the scam evolve, with interest. At first, it was laughable: Guys with heavy accents, claiming to be "Steve Martin" (seriously?), using language that was very British influenced and awkward sounding. After about 3 years, the caller became an educated sounding Indian woman, with the language and agency names considerably cleaned up. Then, the messages became computer generated so no accents and no names. Etc.

    I think we're unlikely to get smarter, but they can only get better at scamming.

  193. Actually, I believe it works the other way around. They don't want to waste time on the more savvy people that won't fall for it. So they often make the claims sound particularly stupid. That way, if the person doesn't immediately hang up, they know they have a live one and can really push it.

  194. Computerized calls made to a cell phone are a violation of the Telecommunications Privacy Act and allow for damages.

  195. The IRS scasm ihas been going in for last few years. I never understood why did the IRS not engage the print , the radio & TV media to pass on the message to consumers. This was a simple task. IRS knew the scams were going on.
    The report says the person said' They are afraid of the Government " because ours is a nation of laws. In India they know they can flout any law and in fact bring the person who is filing the charges in trouble.
    With the advent of internet the Indian scammers will a field day

  196. The danger with what you did is that he knows your phone number and you don't know his.

  197. If I have the time and am in the mood, I try to see how long I can stall them and keep them on the line as long as I can. On one of the Microsoft virus calls I kept the guy on the line for 15 minutes. Although I was polite and made tongue in cheek lead on comments, by the end he was directing foul language at me. That was my entertainment for the day.
    It's a good mental exercise to quickly come up with a ridiculous scenario to maintain the conversation and see how long it goes.

  198. I used to hand the phone over to my toddlers. who loved to talk on the phone, when a telemarketer called.

  199. These are both good solutions.

  200. Oh yes, first Apple and now AMEX, phishing my in box, posing as the companies they are working for, demanding money. Disgusting.

  201. We've received both the Microsoft and IRS calls. With the last faux IRS call, I let the woman get her intro spiel out and then lit into her, stating, "We know who you are and you are all a bunch of scammers and criminals and you should be ashamed that you are ..." And she hung up! Hung up on me! It was sweet.

  202. Scammers with India accents call us regularly, telling us our computer is reporting to them that there is a problem on our end.

    On the first call to me, I asked them which type of computer was notifying them of problems. He responded with microsoft.

    I don't use microsoft computers, so I hung up.

    Since then, when they call, I tell them they should be locked up for trying to scam me. They call on our land line, not cell phone.

    I am yet to read about this scam, but it must be a common scam. I read this article to see if the Microsoft scam has been picked up yet.

    How would one report this?

  203. I received a call on my answering machine warning me of my imminent arrest. Of course I ignored it. But the weird thing was that it was on the exact same day I received a $12 bill from the IRS for interest because of my under-withholding.

    Was it just a coincidence? Or did someone have knowledge of this bill?

  204. when i get calls that i don't recognized, i answer and use my acting skills - i yell that i am a sick old woman, that i am going to call the police if they call again, etc etc - i am SO GOOD i think i should get an acting award. Works every time - they hang up and never call again .

  205. I cannot imagine anyone foolish enough to believe these callers. I've never gotten the IRS scam, but I get calls from Window's Technical Department quite often (or some other bit of nonsense). The US could shut this down if they wished, either by cracking down on the call center business or by cracking down on international payments.

  206. It is sad to see how Americans are gullible and scared. The home of the free, the land of the brave... And scamming and playing on their insecurities became such a big business to employ thousands of people in India. Absolutely astonishing. They called me, too. First, I rarely if ever pick up the phone, I always screen my calls. My wife got startled once by a call from IRS. I got through the accents and the spiel and quickly realized it was a scam. So, I called them back and told them they got the FBI fraud prevention field office, agent Smith. I figured if they could be IRS, I could easily be FBI. We both have similarly thick accents. They did not call back.

  207. Because we are afraid of our own government, our own police and most of all, the IRS.

  208. I don't know if these whistleblowers qualify for a visa to U.S.A., after once being on the team of scam artists. But their photo is on The New York Times. One is ready to climb Mount Everest with backpack and sports shoes, and the other is ready with folded hands to do Yoga.

    As much as they reported the crime before it was independently detected by the officials, it seems to me they deserve some reward from the U.S. Government.

  209. @R Murty - They "reported the crime" after they were fired from their jobs due to an altercation with co-workers. So, no, they are owed nothing. If they hadn't gotten fired they'd still be working the phones trying to scam you out of your money.

  210. I agree with you. They are the willing participants in an international fraud. They deserve some kind of punishment. But, they also broke through the U.S. Federal Bureaucracy and ultimately reached correct federal desk to report international crime. They deserve some credit. They say once the tiger tastes human flesh, it won't go back to the goat. So, these guys have started their career with a scam, and they are likely to continue to put their skills to use. I am surprised they are roaming free.

  211. It breaks my heart to read that most of their victims were recent immigrants to the US. They were defrauding people like them, so they knew their vulnerabilities. They were exploiting the fear of the new country's authorities that is so much part of the immigrant experience. I hope those groups that help recent immigrants to the US read this story and do something to make people aware of the risk.

  212. Face it. Its time for America to see to its cyber defences. This country needs some some sort of organization to track and help the victims of cyber crime. The question is who does a person turn top when he think he is a victim oof such a scam?

  213. These are largely phone scams, set up illegally in foreign countries. How exactly do you expect it's possible for "an organization to track and help the victims" when it's impossible to even know where the caller is let alone a phone number?

  214. @lotusflower: US law enforcement and regulatory agencies (such as the FBI and FTC) regularly track international fraud and help victims. Betsy Broder, mentioned in this article, is an example of that. They often work with foreign law enforcement to take action against scammers located abroad. (This article suggests that the action against Mira Road was a unilateral Indian effort, though I'd be surprised if the US government didn't press the Indians to take action.) Presumably Jon Laughlin was suggesting that the federal government's work on this issue be more centralized, so that there is a single agency to coordinate such work.

  215. I cannot believe in this day and age that people are still gullible to be swindled over the phone on a cold call. Really ?

    You pick up the phone and say; '' Hello ''

    ''Babu'' on the other end starts in on his spiel; '' Hello, I would like to present to you an opportun.... ''

    Click. Simple.

  216. Like other commenters noted: there are aging people out there who are the prime targets for this. They are who I fear for when I get one of these calls.

    Don't be so smug.

  217. Well, since Reagan taught us that government is the problem, we are ripe for the picking. I don't care at this point if we never throw out another illegal if we would only throw out Rupert Murdoch, the cause of the death of reason and the pushing of fear.

  218. so if Reagon never existed these scams would not either? I think you need to blame the root cause - these Indian scammers.

  219. Ronald Reagan taught us it was okay to intimidate anyone. Just ask an air traffic controller.

  220. intimidators existed long before Reagan.

  221. Scams aren't going away. They will always be with us. To protect the rest of us from those who fall for these scams I suggest the gullible be immediately removed from the voters list.

  222. I am a naturalized Indian-American and these bozos targeted me too. I responded to them by goading them to send the FBI and the local police and I promised them that I would be on the line with them while I was being arrested. The next time they called, I mocked them mercilessly for their skullduggery and malfeasance.

  223. Be careful .. they will send a SWAT team to your house

  224. I have had a VoIP line for 11 years and I never get those calls. I get emails with job offers from England that want my banking info and SS# to send my sign on bonus and sometimes a Nigerian prince needs my assistance and even though I could use that bonus and would like to meet a handsome Nigerian prince I just delete those.

  225. The phone is becoming a worthless tool, I mean, if you are called and told to evacuate because of a tsunami, everyone would be like, sure, up yours. And so is the internet, particularly after our military starts attacking, watch out, there goes a good thing.

  226. I formerly worked for a large international investment bank (which is now in a LOT of hot water for all sorts of malfeasance), and was given the choice: be terminated or go to India to train your replacements, or in Bankglish, "feed your own vultures."

    It was blatantly obvious to the most casual observer that the long-term collateral damage from giving brilliant but impoverished young South Indians the keys to the treasury would be enormous.

    But the higher ups who made the decision to outsource (and pocketed my salary, along with that of all the others that they made redundant as bonuses for being such brilliant businessman) are now long gone, and it is too late to lock the barn door. As a result of their decisions, Indian teenagers now have access to more personal and confidential information about you than you probably do yourself.

    It will be verrrry interesting to see how this all plays out.

  227. Most of the comments on this article have no comprehension of dealing with older persons in the very early stages of dementia. Being the victim of financial fraud is often one of the first signs that someone is suffering from this disease. Caller ID is of no use to someone who is beginning to lose their faculties. I watched my father deal with this on a daily basis for six years, screening phone calls, intercepting letters from fraudulent charities and contests (an average of about six per day), and doing other things to protect a relative with dementia. He had to answer every call because otherwise the dementia sufferer would have picked it up. One called back and told him to look out his front window; he was about to be killed by someone waiting outside. Blaming people for being stupid may make you feel superior, but does nothing to solve the problem.

    The people who run and work in these scams are truly the scum of the earth.

  228. Thank you. I'm wincing at these comments calling people 'stupid' for falling for these things. My mother used to be an extremely sharp woman. Then her memory and judgment started failing. Now I live with her and control her finances, so these scammers can't take her.

    Dementia can happen to anyone. Be careful who you call stupid; it could be you one day.

  229. Home calls can be routed to another phone. Your dad today would be able to intercept and/or block grandpop's calls.

    The internet can be a wonderful place. Everyone has the same problems. I Google mine and always find a legitimate solution.

    Also, we can finally take charge of mom and dad's bank accounts online and have their mail rerouted as well as get text alerts messages for any activity on their accounts. We can also change their phone numbers or make them private. We have to be proactive and take advantage of technology, just like the scammers do, to protect our elderly.

  230. I was called by several people many times. They left messages. I called them back every time, pretended I was scared and tried to find out which part of India they were from. I am Indian born myself. And then I shouted profanities. The scams were so mind bogglingly stupid that it never occurred to me that people would actually fall for them; otherwise I would have called law enforcement [I did try to scare these people by saying that I am going to sic the FBI onto them.]

    Now that I see how real people can be hurt by these scums, let me warn readers: although Indians are the big players, there are other scammers out there. From Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines. And they are working hard. Your computer freezing with a message from ``Microsoft'' to call them back is a popular one. They target mostly people with foreign names, assuming those would be the gullible people.

  231. Another scam is people who call claiming to be from "Microsoft Service Department." I'm pretty sure they are also based in India.

  232. We suggest having one unlisted number and a second public number using two different carriers.

    The public number is on one of those cheap emergency plans costing $25/month. We never answer the phone, even on the unlisted number without hearing a legitimate voice we know.

    The result on the public phone is lots of scams, hangups and occasionally a message we need to hear (if the caller isn't part of our private inner circle). The private phone still has a few hangups daily, but all important messages/conversations (family/friends/financials/heath) get through fine.

    Secondly, these scammers in India also involve American banks who hold mortgages. If you pay ahead, large American banks will wait to send the statement unless you complain. When you call, you will get an Indian person who will give you the runaround. The last one we spent an hour on the phone with called HIMSELF "Caroline" and insisted he was a "good Catholic." We got the latest statement, but it was a hellish experience.

    Be forewarned!

  233. I'm a middle-aged American savvy with computers, having worked in IT my whole career. I thought I was impervious to scams since I had installed security software from a known, trusted company ("ABC").

    Two months ago ABC sent me an email saying that I didn't have adequate protection on my system. The email asked me to download a new module to update my security package. Not even thinking remotely about potential problems with this approach, I did as they asked. But the module wouldn't install, and it gave me an error code and a number to call. Not only that, but I was called several times from someone claiming to be their representative who would help me with this problem. So I called them back and was connected to "Chris Coleman," a fellow with a deep accent who spoke broken English. "Chris" told me he needed to "take control" of my system to search for viruses. Long story short, I finally tumbled to the truth when Chris asked me for my credit card to "buy" some new, improved security software!

    After consulting with some expert friends I now have a reliable security system and a virus-free disk drive.

    The moral of the story is that the scammers seem to always be one step ahead of us, particularly those of us who aren't constantly vigilant.

    Don't let this happen to you!

  234. you need to be a lot more careful. Legit companies do not call out of the blue. it is way too expensive (and easy). Legit companies force you to go through hoops to fix any problems. Scammers make solutions sound easy and indivicualized.

  235. abc, the american television network, makes security software ??

  236. My email ATT.Net was hacked 2 years ago and when I called AT&T to correct it they sent me to a AT&T contractor who wanted $300 to fix it. Emter India, Good bye ME

  237. There are many lessons for all of us in this story.

    I'm sure that many, if not all, of the employees at this call center knew that their actions were morally and legally wrong. But, over a period of time, we can rationalize almost anything.

    We need to be less gullible and careful about giving away either information or money. Don't let skeletons in the closet force you to jump to conclusions.

    Take whistle blowers seriously. Listen, understand and act fast.

  238. This is a rather race-discriminating article. I'm getting zillions of fake messages on the phone all with perfect American accents and words of wisdom ("Hi, how are you today").

  239. Yes, not only from India, but let's look at where it's coming from. I get IRS and credit card scams from US-sounding crooks, and fix your computer scams from Indians, who usually say something technically wrong, since I have a MAC instead of a PC. Cyber hustles are new, and require new self-protections.

  240. I sometimes get calls from these guys. There's a temptation to pick up the phone and ask them "Does your momma know what you do for a living?"-- but that temptation should be resisted. Use Caller ID, ignore them if they don't leave a message, ignore them if they're obviously bogus.

  241. As it happened, the United States government had been tracking this India-based scheme since 2013, a period during which Americans, many of them recent immigrants, have lost $100 million to it.

    The Election gets hacked, the Pentagon gets hacked, foreign nations roam at will across US networks, and USGovernment watches as Americans are ripped off to the tune of $100 million.

    Exactly who is protecting Americans from E-Crime?

  242. primarily themselves.

  243. If there was, after Trump, there most certainly won't be. The sheep are plump with fur and ready for shearing.

  244. The Republican House members keep cutting budgets which doesn't help, but I'm afraid way too many American workers who have jobs spend too much of their work time chatting on their cell phones, putting photos on their Facebook pages, or even playing computer games. Have you ever called a state agency only to have the person you need to talk to "away from their desk"? I realize there are "calls of nature" and lunch hours, but at 9am?

  245. I received several calls from IRS scammers saying that I owed the IRS money, but I soon realized that this was a scam and reported it to the IRS online. I was unable to report it to a live person there.

  246. This is not just fraud; it is financial terrorism.
    I have received a few of the IRS calls, and MANY of the tech scam calls. They always begin with "I am calling about your Windows computer." This is a giveaway for me as I have a Mac, but the poor English of the always Indian callers would also be a giveaway. Tech company Indian employees always speak better English.
    I used to play alone, then attack them with obscene threats involving castration. Now I just say I don't have a computer.
    I wish the US government would get India to put these terrorists in jail.

  247. I get calls once a week for a year now from an Indian call center. They tell me my computer must be turned on. That I have a serious windows infection and they must download a program immediately to fix it. It is always frightening for me to consider how many people must fall for this scam and download malware of some sort.

  248. I get similar calls from people with Indian accent, ever since I purchased a DELL computer. They seem to know the basic number of my computer and want to come into it to "fix the critical problem". I do not allow them. But when I call DELL to report, the response is from Delhi center in India and same Indian voices respond. When I try to explain the problem, they advise me to call F.T.C. and hang up. Seems to me DELL needs to look into this situation or all DELL user must boycott DELL. I have called DELL HeadQuarters in USA and they just do not care!

  249. @Madigan - Why are you angry with Dell, when the scammers are calling you from an illegal call center in another country on your phone? They're not responsible for scam phone calls, they only made your computer. Even Apple users with Mac computers get such calls.

  250. Report suspected fraudulent numbers to the "Do Not Call Registry". Check your credit on a regular basis. Don't pay for either service. They're included in your taxes. Spam any email you didn't ask to receive. Don't open them. Clean your computer on a regular basis. Even the tech-savy mess up occasionally. If you or a relative isn't capable of doing this on your own, go to a reputable repair shop for help. It's like changing your oil. The computer needs to go into the shop every once in a while. The frequency depends on your habits. If you're not sure, annual is a good benchmark for all the above.

  251. I do not ever, ever, ever answer a call from a number I don't recognize - ever, not at home, not on my cell, not at work.
    If it's important, and genuine, the caller usually leaves a message and I return the call if I choose. No scammer has ever left a message on my voice mail. That's how you know.

  252. also, their numbers do not appear on caller id. If it was a legit phone, especially govt, that number would appear.

  253. You've never had a delivery driver call you? If you don't "ever, ever, ever" pick up, you might be waiting a long time for your pizza.

  254. My daughter used to do that... until recently she picked the phone and it was a real collection agency trying to collect on a fraudulent charge on a faked Paypal account on her name.
    Thanks God she answered the phone this time and later called Paypal to fix the problem.
    Not answering is not necessarily a good idea. I usually just call back and if no one picks the phone send to the reject list.

  255. Yeah, no kidding. How many of us have been receiving at least one call per day from a person with a heavy Indian, or Pakistani, accent, calling himself "Bill," or "Brad," or "Craig," telling you that he's calling from Microsoft to warn you about a threat to your personal computer, and wanting you to give him control of it, so he can "fix" it. Or maybe your "Bill" is calling to sell you solar panels. "Do Not Call" doesn't work, anyway, but it particularly doesn't work on these scams. Also, older folks, there's been a rash of "grandma calls," where your supposed grandchild is in big trouble, and needs you to send money. NEVER mention the gender, or the name, of your grandchild, let the caller tell YOU who is calling. Just beware.

  256. I have caller ID. If I don't recognize the name, I don't pick up the phone. They never leave a message on the answering machine. If just a number is shown, sometimes I pick up. And if no one answers immediately, I hang up.

  257. I love wasting these kids' time. They'll call about once a week and I'll play along for about 30 minutes or so, pretending to be on my way to the ATM. It always ends in them, angry and frustrated, swearing me off the phone. And yet they keep calling back.

    One of the highlights of my week.

  258. This is just a result of American companies using cheap labor at India call centers. The profit of these call centers is decreasing so of course the call center owners decide to make money by using call centers to defraud Americans who can not defend themselves.

    Time to recognize that most American companies and Indian entrepreneurs do not care how they make a profit.

    Americans phone companies could easily deal with this problem, but they make a profit from every Indian worker that makes a call to try to defraud an American.

    Time to recognize that Globalization simply means cheap labor and "anything goes" to make a larger profit.

  259. I will no long deal with American companies who off-source their call centers to countries like India where there are few protections for American consumers!

  260. Good luck.

  261. If NSA can listen to every phone call and read every e-mail, why can't they be used in the battle against telephone fraud? Indeed, why can't they be used to enforce the "do not call" list, which has become an absolute joke? Frankly, I'd have a much more positive view of NSA if they did some real good.

  262. One of the NSA's good points - they aren't trying to suck all the money out of my bank account.

  263. The "do not call" list does work. Most people just don't bother to use it with any regularity. Similar to the Better Business Bureau, only the extremely aggrieved and the habitually cranky ever use the service. Much easier for the busy adult to just ignore the number or hang up the phone. How is law enforcement supposed to do anything effectual when the vast majority of crime goes unreported?

    Furthermore, the Federal Trade Commission manages the call list, not the NSA. The NSA is primarily responsible for signals intelligence. The FTC is responsible for consumer protection. Big difference. If phone spam really annoys you that much, vote for someone that wants to give the FTC regulatory teeth. Personally, I'd prefer to see the FCC grow a spine first.

  264. Whether a cyber/phone scam is local, national, or international, one of the law enforcement problems is that a victim does not know where to go for help. There are roughly 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies in the USA, most of which have neither the expertise nor the time to investigate these individual, “minor” frauds. The NSA is doubtless overkill as a partner in fighting these crimes, but surely this growing problem requires a national not a local program.

  265. These scams only work on the uninformed. Immigrants mostly. I, of course, am presuming that natives are in tune with their tax situation and how the IRS works. If not, good luck.

  266. Everybody over 60 (and maybe everybody, period) should simply install a low-tech call blocker on their home phone line.

    These are widely available, they cost about $40 and they are based on the principle of "white-listing" -- you ONLY answer calls from known numbers.

    Any number not on the white list does not even ring your phone. Instead the block device intercepts the call and it goes to voice mail. If it's someone you want to talk to, you add them on the white list. Of course there is inconvenience to some legitimate callers and to you, but the cost benefit analysis for most people will be very favorable.

    This gets rid of scammers but it also gets rid of charities and other business that rely on telemarketing -- which are, by and large, people you don't want to do business with anyway. There are so many deserving charities in the world -- why should you give money to the one that interrupts your dinner with a phone call? Just block them all.

    White-listing is increasingly used by server administrators who are tired of relentless hacking attempts, most of them from the third world. They basically ban, by default, any IPs not already pre-authorized from having back-door access to their servers.

  267. The call blockers only record a few hundred numbers, if that many. They are a waste of money in general. Furthermore, "people over 60" (I'm almost 70 so start being less discriminatory and thinking of using words like "people with dementia") are tech smart in general and penny wise overall. All people need to be told to not answer the phone if they don't recognize the phone number! If they insist on answering the phone you should insist that they conference you in. If they can't conference and the caller won't conference, their phones should be on a call forwarding system to whomever is looking out for them. My telephone provider provides this Ring Everywhere service so I always knew who was calling my 100 year old parents with dementia. I could easily pick up the phone before they did even when I was 3000 miles away.

  268. I have all my calls roll over to my cell which I use to screen calls. I never answer my home phone because of the rollover and because I never give that number out so I know it's no one I know. I never answer unknown numbers, including from my area code and quickly add all new numbers that I want so I'll recognize them. If someone I'm doing businesses with is to call me back, I ask which number will they be calling from so I'll pick up.

    I block my number should I test call unknown numbers back or I Google them. I use call reject from my cell as well. If I accidentally answer a call and it's a scam, I immediately block that number.

    It's a daily job blocking numbers to be sure!

  269. Excellent for high call volume. I don't get many calls, so rely on caller id.

  270. If Donald Trump wants to bring jobs back to the US, call centers is a good start. The rational would be to protect US citizens from criminals. By utilizing today's technology call centers in the US can be made, cost wise, competitive to outsourcing. Call centers in the US can be more productive and efficient and, moreover, it is the right of American consumers to have a stress, safe and hustle free customer service.

  271. There are many others more skilled and more crafty and dishonest than those you pointed out. Be very careful and cautious and do not part with your money for ANY reason, including fear of the government. You are, remember, an amateur....and those after your money are experts......

  272. When I hear an Indian voice on the phone, I immediately distrust whoever it is. That is sad. These people are doing no service for their own country. They are giving India a bad reputation.
    For this reason, I also dislike it when a legitimate company uses a call center based in India. I am glad that a person has a good job and can support their family. But I'm not pleased about having to discuss personal financial details with them.

  273. I agree, these scammers are doing no service to India. Not only they harm ordinary Americans financially, they use very filthy language when they get exposed. I have talked to many tech scammers in India and invariably they say, Americans are so stupid and why not take advantage. The fact is Americans are trusting and Indian scammers are very cunning. The take pride in the fact they are "chalaak", a Hindi word commonly interpreted as cunning.

  274. I have to admit that I won't discuss personal information with people based in other countries. I've closed bank accounts when I found out the bank used a call center based overseas. There are no protections for customers when an organization does that.

  275. Sad indeed. The worst part is that even legitimate call center employees give you the "Hi, I'm Brad Johnson" treatment with a heavy accent out of a Bollywood flick, which lets you know these people and their employers have no problem lying to you from the first sentence. Hard to stay polite after that.

  276. Too many calls from Microsoft. I tell them to stop the fraud and get a real job and they curse me to hell and call me names. And this is why I pay Verizon for Phone service!

  277. Um, Verizon uses Indian call centers...and they are awful!

  278. Um, Verizon has Indian call centers and they are awful!

  279. @lechrist - Um, I use Verizon and have never once spoken to an India based call center.

  280. There may be little we can do about these overseas calls, other than avoid being stupid. However, why can we not do anything about calls from America that come in trying to sell or scam us? I don't answer most, but I take some calls with spoofed ID showing up as local calls. Most common recently have been vacation offers falsely claiming to be from some reputable hotel chain.

    These people are clearly native speaking Americans. It should be easy to trace credit card info back to the operators. Why is it not a criminal act to operate, or use the services of, a call center that violates the do-not-call list? Civil actions have not stopped these calls. Prison time would.

  281. About 2 years ago, I called what was supposed to be a comcast service number as I was experiencing internet problems. I was told by the young man from the call center that if I sent $150, my problems would disappear. I found another number for comcast , told them what happened (this call office was in the US) and was told that this wasn't something that comcast would do. (Turned out it was comcast-related and was finally fixed)