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Tue Nov 29, 2016, 08:12 PM

Callers for dollars: Inside India's scam call centers

Source: Reuters

WORLD NEWS | Tue Nov 29, 2016 | 6:47pm EST

Callers for dollars: Inside India's scam call centers

By Rajendra Jadhav, Euan Rocha and Rahul Bhatia | MUMBAI

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She had just been scammed - one of at least 15,000 people the U.S. Justice Department says lost more than $300 million in an "enormous and complex fraud" running since 2013. The department last month brought grand jury charges against 56 people in India and the United States for "telefraud" scams run from fake call centers in India.

Investigators have arrested 20 people in the United States, and Indian authorities have made 75 arrests following October raids on three premises in the Thane suburb of Mumbai. Charges include conspiracy to commit identity theft, impersonation of an officer of the United States, wire fraud and money laundering.

Indian police say they are looking for Sagar Thakkar, a man in his early 30s also known as Shaggy, who they believe masterminded the scam. Thakkar was also among those named by the U.S. Department of Justice. Reuters was unable to contact Thakkar for comment; he is not known to have a lawyer, and police believe he fled to Dubai last month.

"We are trying to complete the procedure to issue a red corner notice for Thakkar," Parag Manere, a deputy commissioner at Thane police, told Reuters, referring to an Interpol arrest warrant.

Police said Thakkar led a lavish lifestyle, frequenting 5-star hotels and driving expensive cars with proceeds from the scam. He gave one, a 25 million rupee ($365,000) Audi R8, to his girlfriend. "We have seized an Audi car, and are trying to find other assets of Thakkar," Manere said.

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Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-fraud-usa-idUSKBN13O2XZ

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