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Pawan Poojary, 18, left, and Jayesh Dubey, 19, were part of a scheme targeting Americans run from a call center in Thane, a suburb of Mumbai, India. THANE, India — Betsy Broder, who tracks international fraud at the Federal Trade Commission, was in her office in Washington last summer when she got a call from two Indian teenagers. Calling from a high-rise building in a suburb of Mumbai, they told her, in tones that were alternately earnest and melodramatic, that they wanted to share the details of a sprawling criminal operation targeting Americans. Broder, who was no stranger to whistle-blowers, pressed the young men for details. What does your grandmother call you? Babu was Jayesh Dubey, a skinny 19-year-old with hair gelled into vertical bristles, a little like a chimney brush.
He told her that he was working in a seven-story building and that everyone there was engaged in the same activity: impersonating Internal Revenue Service officials and threatening Americans, demanding immediate payment to cover back taxes. Though India had no reputation as a large-scale exporter of fraud in the past, it is now seen as a major center for fraud, said Suhel Daud, an F. Put all of these together, with the Indian demographics in the U. Whatever money you’re making, you can easily make 10 times as much. Pawan Poojary and Jayesh Dubey, best friends and college dropouts, were impressed with the Phoenix 007 call center in Thane, a suburb northeast of Mumbai. Notes kept by the whistle-blowers during their training at the call center. The two friends had been playing a video game for up to eight hours a day, pausing occasionally to eat.
They said they showed up for training in a room of young Indians like themselves, the first in their family to be educated in English. They were a slice of aspirational India: Mr. Poojary’s father, who owned two welding shops, was adamant that his son would rise to a higher place in society, an office job. Poojary was afraid to tell him he had dropped out of college. At that time I am money-minded.
Poojary was excited and nervous about speaking to an American for the first time, and he was alarmed by the resulting bursts of profanity. Dubey said he tried to commit the entire experience to memory, in case he and Mr. Poojary someday decided to start a business of their own. I will also become a great scammer. The key to the whole thing, Mr. Dubey decided, was a psychological fact: Americans fear their state.
In India, people are not afraid of police. It is easy to get out of anything. But in America they are afraid. You are messing with the federal government,’ and that is all.
Betsy Broder tracks international fraud at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington. Someone was on the line from the government, her mother said. They had called three or four times while she was out. Desai, 56, worked as a cashier at Walmart. When she picked up the phone, a gruff-voiced man told her that she had failed to pay fees when she got her United States citizenship, in 1995, and that unless she did so she would be deported back to India, she said.