A call center in India was telling people in the United States that they were in trouble with the IRS for tax evasion or tax fraud. Luckily, I know that the IRS writes letters and doesn’t email or leave voice mail unless you have a personal relationship with a particular agent. the US Justice Department claimed that people had been scammed out of $300 million with this scam.
There were 20 people arrested in American and India did several raids to arrest several dozen in India regarding this scam. The individual knownn as “Shaggy” who allegedly masterminded the entire scam has taken refuge in the United Arab Emirates — out of reach of Indian authorities.
Meanwhile Indian authorities have seized an Audi that the alleged mastermind Thakkar gave to his girlfriend and are looking for other assets.
The main technique used during the scam operation is typical. They bullied Americans with threats of arrest, jail, confiscated assets, and more. The IRS threatens to confiscate assets, but I have not heard of them threatening people with jail time unless their Attorneys have reviewed your case and a serious case of fraud has been proven such as in the case of the famous gangster Al Capone from decades ago. The government couldn’t find enough dirt to jail Capone on his criminal activities, but were able to bust him on tax evasion of all things.
Maybe this scam call center should get a written testimonial from Al Capone (no longer living) to prove that real people do get jailed for evading taxes.
The moral of the story here is to be on the lookout for scams from India. But, there is tremendous dishonesty right here at home too. Most Americans have their bristles up when someone tries to scam them and are even suspicious of you when you are not trying to scam them. It is that occassional person who is not registering that they are being taken advantage of that the scammers capitalize on. Make sure that person is not you!
Indian Call Center developments
In previous blogs we mentioned that the Philippines was neck and neck with India for call center revenues, but I read an article posted on Dec 6th 2010 in the Global Nation Inquirer stating that the Philippines has become the call center capital of the world. I saw this coming. Filipino call center employees get statistically more done per hour than in India and have a better command of American English as well as a good level of cultural affinity with the U.S. Even some Indian companies set up call centers in the Philippines to benefit from their cultural links to the West.
My personal feeling is that India excels at intelligent tasks, and that cultural skills are just a matter of learning. India has no shortage of people who can learn anything. With a population of 1.1 billion, there will be many who can master every type of skill known to mankind, even if they don’t have a head start. Indian education emphasizes math and science, and when Indian kids come to America to go to college, they are years ahead of the Americans. Its just a question of emphasis. Culture is easier to master than trigonometry, its just a matter of learning it. Accents can be learned and mastered too, at least to the point of being acceptable for business use.
If an Indian call center employee has some Indian accent, that is okay, just as long as they are clear, helpful, and know all of our American faux pas. But, many could master even regional accents through a good educational program. Some businesses put an emphasis on training and mastery while others accept mediocracy. With the types of prices Indian call centers are charging these days, there is no room for second rate service. Prices have skyrocketed recently, so quality of service, not price competition need to be the primary focus.
Tata Consultancy Service is a multi-billion dollar Indian company famous for cars, dams, and other services. They have just opened a BPO operation in Manila instead of in their motherland. It is a sad state of affairs when Indians are outsourcing their tasks outside of India. The tide has shifted. Overall outsourcing revenues are still by far the highest in India, but China is catching up fast, and the Philippines with its far smaller overall market share is also gaining… at least in the call center industry.
To end this short blog with a joke. Did you hear about the new car models from 2005?
There was the Ford Hurricane and the Tata Tsunami.