Indian call center employees posing as the IRS may have bilked Americans out of millions


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My housemate works in customer service for healthcare, and every day he gets dozens of calls from Indian call centers pretending to be insurance customers or doctor’s offices. Their English is excellent but when he asks for their name, the results can be amazing, as they often choose random names, celebrity names, or random words – he’s had men say their name is “Barbara”, “Connery”, “Bruce”, or “Transistor”.


What’s wrong with Bruce?

I’ve also known an Indian man named Vivian. I’m not sure if that was his given name or just what he called himself, but he wasn’t doing it for a scam.


Can we print scam warnings on all W2s and major tax forms? Not the instructions, the forms themselves.


I discovered a time-saving and blood pressure saving tactic when dealing with scam telephone spam.

The robodialer used for nearly all of the scam phone spam we get here in Toronto takes a second or two to connect you to the next available live person. It also emits an audible “boop” when it does connect you. If I answer the phone and hear silence followed by a boop, I immediately hang up. No more time wasted talking to the scammer or swearing at them or telling them to stop calling. Just hang up before they get on the line.


I get these calls every week or two. One time I asked the guy “Are you sure you are from the IRS. For some reason I don’t believe you.” Their response “I never told you to believe me. The cops are coming to arrest you.” yeah… right.


In the context of getting a call from Bombay, a heavily-accented man saying their name is “Bruce” (as in Willis) is another example of them choosing random American celebrity names to pretend they’re not an Indian call center.


But you can troll them back… @frauenfelder should have linked to his earlier recorded call, it is pure awesome!


I lack the temperament or the time.


What do old people like these days? Sanka? Can we include a mandatory warning “The IRS does not call” on every jar?


It could be a nickname. Also, Indian Catholics have western-sounding names, usually either Portuguese or last names that sound like English first names. That being said, there’s a huge gulf of difference between these names and an obvious fake like Bruce Connery, or Fundamentals of RF and Microwave Transistor Amplifiers.


Definitely. I get occasional entertainment value from stringing them along for a bit before berating them for their incompetence as scammers. How big a loser does someone have to be to go to work for one of those half-baked boiler rooms?


I’m guessing that the raid was less the result of investigative policing than a reprisal for not keeping up with their protection bribes. Right before the calls stopped completely, the frequency that my wife and I received the calls jumped from once a week, to daily, to multiple calls per day. It felt like they knew that time was running short.


Let’s not train them to get better at it, m’kay?


Judging by the sub-par and lazy quality of their canned efforts to scam, I doubt they’d grasp the concept of kaizen. Usually the call ends up with them making a ridiculous attempt to curse me out, and they can’t even get that right.


Matt Besser played some recording of these on the latest Improv4Humans podcast. Toward the end, the guy said something like “If you fail to respond to this, I can only be sorry for you for the misfortune that will unfold.” Which the IRS usually tends to leave as an implicit threat…


Vivians (Vyvyans?):


Just forward the call to Lenny.


i heard on NPR they were getting $175,000 per DAY. how many americans are falling for this? it’s like a national epidemic of cluelessness.


Nobody likes Sanka. We should all tell our parents that the IRS won’t call you.