IRS Phone Scam's Mastermind Used American Accents

Man running bogus call centers busted, may have scammed Americans out of $300M
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2017 11:21 AM CDT
Mastermind of IRS Phone Scam Busted in India
Indian callers posing as IRS agents may have scammed Americans of more than $300 million.   (Getty Images/ eyfoto)

Indian police have nabbed the alleged mastermind behind an IRS scam that bilked Americans out of millions of dollars. Sagar "Shaggy" Thakkar, 24, was arrested in Mumbai on Saturday after a flight from Dubai, where he had been living since police raided nine call centers in October, CNNMoney reports. Some 700 workers phoned as many as 15,000 unwitting Americans, posing as IRS agents and demanding immediate payment for unpaid taxes. While the exact amount of Thakkar's haul is unknown, Reuters reports the swindle netted more than $300 million, and the New York Times says it took in as much as $150,000 a day. Indian police have charged more than 390 people in the scheme, per CNN.

Rising from lower-middle-class roots, Thakkar has a reputation in Indian media as a big spender who once dropped $400,000 on a German sports car for his girlfriend, per the Times. "He wanted fast money. There is no other intention for this," a local police rep says. Described by cops as "very, very smart," Thakkar recruited tech-savvy workers, including some of his school friends, who CNN says imitated American accents. Thakkar reportedly learned the ropes early, telling cops he first worked at a call center at age 15 conducting phone surveys. "He appears like a regular guy; he doesn’t appear like a criminal if you talk to him," the local police commissioner tells the Times. Thakkar faces multiple charges including extortion, cheating, impersonation, and criminal conspiracy. (This IRS scam took a scary turn.)

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