More than 50 people have been arrested in Delhi on suspicion of being involved in an international call centre scam that netted millions of dollars.
They are accused of being part of an organised group which defrauded nearly 5,000 people in the US and several other countries.
Indian law enforcement says the suspects cheated their victims out of more than US$14 million in total.
They allegedly phoned people around the world and told them that they faced legal action because their bank accounts and credit cards were being used to pay international drug cartels for major drug purchases.
The scammers claimed to be from Interpol and other international law enforcement agencies.
“They would inform the targeted persons that their bank accounts and other assets are going to be frozen as their details have been found at a crime scene,” Anyesh Roy, Delhi’s deputy commissioner of police, told the Hindustan Times.
“Some of the targets were also told that there were other fake bank accounts being used in their names through which illegal transactions were being made to drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia.”
The gang then allegedly told their victims that they faced arrest and legal action if they did not pay up.
“They were told that the only way to safeguard their assets is to buy bitcoins or gift cards and transfer the same to e-wallets in India,” Roy said.
According to the police, most of the victims paid up to avoid the threatened but fictional legal action and the gang then cashed the bitcoins and gift cards in India.
Police told the Hindustan Times that the suspected creator and director of the scam was running it from Dubai,
Delhi Police’s cyber-crime unit says it has broken up more than 25 fake call centres so far this year.