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Police In India Arrest Hundreds In IRS Scam

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Police In India Arrest Hundreds In IRS Scam

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Police In India Arrest Hundreds In IRS Scam

Police In India Arrest Hundreds In IRS Scam

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Hundreds of people were arrested in India in a scam ring that called people in the U.S., threatening them with arrest if they didn't pay them cash to clear alleged IRS debts.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Police in India this week have questioned more than 700 people and arrested 70 of them all in connection with a scam to scare American taxpayers. Andrew Soergel is an economy reporter with U.S. News and World Report.

ANDREW SOERGEL: They were scamming thousands of Americans out of tens of millions of dollars by posing as tax authorities and tax collectors.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Back in April, NPR's tech reporter Aarti Shahani did a story on this, and she aired one of these scam phone calls.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: It's a little hard to understand at times.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All right, Miss, can you please confirm your first name?

SHAHANI: An unidentified IRS man wants her name.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

EMMA LAUDER: OK, my name is Emma Lauder.

SHAHANI: The agent tells Emma Lauder that his office has audited her taxes from 2009 to 2014, and there's been a miscalculation. She owes money.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: OK, for that reason, the local authorities with an arrest warrant will come at your place.

SHAHANI: And she's going to be arrested - could be any minute now.

CORNISH: But if the taxpayer doesn't want to be arrested, the story continues, there's a solution - forking over thousands of dollars. Amazingly this scam worked on lots of people. Again, here's Andrew Soergel.

SOERGEL: They make thousands of calls a day. They wouldn't always get a hit, but they're believed to have been bring in up to $150,000 a day.

MCEVERS: And he says the phony tax scam caused real pain.

SOERGEL: I've been in touch with a woman who was duped by one of these, lost a lot of savings. The phrasing she used was, scared out of her mind.

CORNISH: U.S. authorities are working with Indian police on this. Andrew Soergel says as much as 30 percent of the profits have been funneled back to co-conspirators in the States who helped find potential victims.

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