IRS scam complaints plunge after raids on India call centers

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WBAY) – Did you notice your phone is quieter? The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau says complaints about IRS scam phone calls have dropped dramatically following a raid on three call centers in India two weeks ago.

There were 770 people working at one call center when police raided it at midnight. That’s early afternoon in Wisconsin.

Seventy people were charged with fraud, extortion and other crimes, and 600 are under investigation, according to The New York Times. Though U.S. federal authorities were investigating these calls, India’s Economic Times reported it was a disgruntled former employee who tipped off authorities to the call centers’ locations.

The BBB Scam Tracker says IRS call complaints fell from about 200 in a typical week to 11 this past week, a 94.5% drop.

In the IRS scam, a caller threatens the potential victim with heavy fines, arrest, even deportation, unless an immediate payment is made. In variations on the scam, the caller isn’t threatening but claims to want to help the victim with their taxes, or says some information on their tax return was incomplete, and asks for personal information. The Caller ID is usually fake, indicating the call is coming from the IRS or within the United States.

The BBB says the IRS scam was responsible for 1 in 4 complaints to the bureau in the past year.

Clearly this isn’t the end of scam phone calls. When Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt engaged a caller earlier this year, the caller said he was located in Afghanistan.

BBB Scam Tracker manager Emma Fletcher warns, “We know from past experience that scammers are opportunists. Hopefully this crew won’t be stealing from anyone again for a long while, but we will be keeping an eye on incoming scam reports so we can alert consumers what the ‘next big thing’ in scams turns out to be.”