This Indian Cop Took Down a Massive IRS Call-Center Scam
Millions of Americans have fallen for a ruse claiming they owe back taxes and must pay immediately. On the other side of the globe, one dogged inspector finally delivered justice.
Photos by Prarthna Singh
Madan Ballal sat down in a conference room with 48 other officers of the Thane Crime Branch, the criminal investigation wing of the police department in a city on the outskirts of Mumbai, India.
As monsoon rain crashed against the room’s windows, the gathering of police officers, holding half-full cups of sweet tea, learned about a type of “cold-blooded crime that had the potential to wreck the Indian economy.”
The offenders, the officers were told, were English-speaking Indians who worked in a sprawling network of bogus call centers in western India. They called American citizens, pretending to be officials of the Internal Revenue Service, and demanded immediate payment of tax arrears, threatening imprisonment and deportation. Thousands of Americans had been cheated in the nine months of the network’s operation, collectively swindled out of close to $250 million.
Ballal, a 45-year-old inspector with an upswept pompadour and an appearance of genuine sincerity, was…