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Call centres in India used to swindle American citizens

February 22, 2012 11:35 IST

Federal authorities have cracked down on a California-based company that used the services of call centres in India to make fake, very often threatening, debt collector calls to consumers in the US.

At a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a US district court ordered stopping making of such calls.

Consumers received millions of collection calls from India, and that since January 2010 the operation took in more than $5 million from victims, FTC said.

"This is a brazen operation based on pure fraud, and the FTC is committed to shutting it down," said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

This is first of its kind case that has come to light in the US wherein call centres in India have been used to make fake debt collection calls to the US.

The FTC alleges that information submitted by consumers who applied online for these loans found its way into the hands of the defendants.

The FTC filed suit against American Credit Crunchers, related company Ebeeze LLC and their owner Varang Thaker.

According to the FTC's complaint, Thaker obtained information - often including Social Security or bank account numbers - about consumers who had inquired about, applied for, or obtained online payday loans.

Thaker worked with telephone callers in India who called consumers using deceptive statements and threats to convince them to pay debts that were not owed or that he was not authorised to collect, the FTC alleged.

He also profited handsomely from this scheme, according to documents filed with the court. Thaker has withdrawn tens of thousands of dollars from the American Credit Crunchers and Ebeeze bank accounts, the FTC alleged.

Lalit K Jha and Yoshita Singh in Washington/New York
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