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Indian police raid New Delhi call centre targeting Canadians, 32 arrested

New Dehli police say they have arrested 32 people and shut down a call centre which scammed Canadians out of their money via fraudulent phone calls involving their social insurance numbers.

1 victim duped out of $13,500, officials say

Police in India arrested 32 people during a raid on a call centre suspected of carrying out scams on unsuspecting Canadians. (West Delhi DCP/Twitter)

New Dehli police say they have arrested 32 people and shut down a call centre which scammed Canadians out of their money via fraudulent phone calls involving their social insurance numbers.

New Delhi deputy police commissioner Sameer Sharma said in a statement on Monday that the "swanky international cheating scam call centre" called CyberCell was targeting Canadian citizens and had come to the attention of police on Friday. 

"It was learned that [the scammers] are cheating innocent peoples based [in Canada] on the false pretext of saving them from non-existing social insurance number (SIN) violations," Sharma said.

Police arrived at the call centre located in an industrial district in west Dehli to find several fraudulent calls in progress with computer screens showing Canadian phone numbers.

Three supervisors were present and questioned about the activity, but they "could not give any satisfactory answer," he said.

WATCH: CBC's Marketplace calls up Indian scam centre employee

Marketplace co-host David Common and producer Nelisha Vellani call up an employee at an Indian scam centre by phone and ask why they're targeting innocent people. 2:22

Four men suspected of owning the call centre were not present during the raid and are being sought by police, Sharma said.

The centre was believed to have operated at nighttime in New Delhi, which is morning and afternoon across most of Canada, the statement said. 

"On sustained questioning, they divulged that they were engaged in calling [Canadians] and impersonating [themselves] as genuine Canadian police and Service Canada officials." 

Police also seized equipment including 55 computers, 35 phones and script pages which directed workers on what to say during each scam. Spoofing technology, which made calls from CyberCell appear as though the number was based in Canada, was also taken. 

At least one Canadian had been duped out of $13,500 through the SIN scam, police said. 

Sharma said the racket begun with a robocall claiming to be from Service Canada. It would usually state there had been "several allegations" linked to the target's SIN number and that they would be arrested if they did not phone back. 

Those who did call back were then subjected to further threats before being offered a "one-time chance" to pay and settle the matter. 

The scammers would direct payment be made via prepaid credit cards, iTunes gift cards or Bitcoin.