MUMBAI // Indian police say they have arrested the mastermind of a call-centre scam run out of a Mumbai suburb that targeted thousands of Americans and netted more than US$300 million.
Sagar Thakkar, also known as Shaggy, was arrested at the Mumbai international airport early on Saturday after he flew in from Dubai, said Mukund Hatote, a police officer on the case.
In October, the US justice department charged more than 60 people in India and the United States with participating in the swindle in which call-centre agents impersonated officials from the Internal Revenue Service, immigration or other federal agencies and demanded payments for nonexistent debts.
The department said at least 15,000 people had been targeted by the telefraud that was run out of India.
The scam was broken up in early October, when Indian police raided a host of call centres in the Mumbai suburb of Thane and detained more than 700 people. Call centres in the western city of Ahmedabad were also raided and shut down.
Mr Thakkar was listed as a call-centre operator and payment processor in the US justice department’s indictment that charged the defendants with conspiracy to commit identity theft, impersonation of US officials, wire fraud and money laundering.
According to the indictment, call centre operators told victims they owed the government taxes or penalties and threatened them with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay.
The payments were laundered by a US-based network of co-conspirators using prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, often using stolen or fake identities.
American and Indian authorities have been working together on the investigation. The US has said it would seek the extradition of the suspects based in India.
Indian police have said previously that Mr Thakkar led a lavish lifestyle, frequenting five-star hotels and driving around in expensive cars. Police believe he fled overseas after the scam was uncovered.