I listened to the most FASCINATING podcasts that directly relate to our blog topics which makes it even better. It’s about scam phone calls coming from Bombay targeting NRIs to the US, and money being processed by desperate recent NRIs driving around the American Midwest by non-English-speaking NRIs. We know these people! Like, on film and in real life too!
This is a scam that most Americans have probably experienced. You get a phone call or voicemail telling the IRS/Immigration Services/payday loan/something like you still owe a huge debt. Most people ignore any numbers they don’t know, and delete any voicemail from a government office or bank or similar. But from time to time someone does call. And then they fall into a trap as they are pressured to have a quick-buy cash card and have a voice read the number over the phone. I didn’t know what would happen after that! Someone in India quickly sends those numbers through a contact in the US who calls one of his “runners” and reads the number for him to run to the supermarket where he’s standing, cash him, Then take the cash nearby, deposit it in the bank and send it back to India immediately. What I didn’t go through before is how many desi are involved in the scheme, and how many of them really know what’s going on or make any real money from it. This is a kind of scam version of extreme class oppression.
In the US, you have Gujarati immigrants who can’t speak English, they are being hired as runners, they have no real idea of what they are supposed to do and then they are paid every few cash Are being given. month. Meanwhile, they drive across the country without stopping in the scorching cold and scorching heat, sleeping in cars, eating in cars, seeing few other living souls except when they run into drops of their cash. . Sure, they had some vague sense that it was illegal, they were using false IDs and dealing with cash, but as far as they were concerned, it was the person right above them who was telling them. was what to do. And yes, some of them were even scary friends who had violent crimes on their record. But mostly they were total innocents who landed in a strange country and were trying to survive. One of them was even tricked by the same scam of which he was unknowingly a part! There was a call in which he was threatened with deportation and he loaded all his little money on the cash card without thinking about how it could be the other half of the job of cashing in the cash card all day.
And then in Bombay, you have got marginally educated unemployed youth. They can speak English, but they don’t have a degree, they don’t have much opportunities, and if they’re hired for a call center, that’s very tempting. On the first day at the call centre, they are given the scam script and told that they get paid in rupees for what they get in dollars. That is, if they scam someone out of $ 4,000, then they get 4 thousand rupees. This results in a profit of about $3,950 for their invisible owners. They mostly know it’s a scam, but money is too good to turn down, and anyway, all Americans are rich, right?
This is the part that I found most fascinating! The reporter spoke to two Indian youths who had worked in one of those call centers for a few months. A few months later, one of them spoke on the phone with a woman who said she was sorry, but she couldn’t pay taxes, she wasn’t able to feed her baby that day. The young man was shocked and immediately called his manager to explain that he had called someone by accident, this person was not rich. And the manager took the phone and persuaded him to borrow $200 from a friend and send them at least that much. No one gets down without paying some money. After that, the young man and his friend decided that they would never scam anyone again, and instead just go to work every day and talk to people calling, “It’s a scam, you don’t need us money.” But how’s your day going?” It was lovely, he got to talk to all kinds of interesting people in America.
Well, these boys were cute and I want to pinch their cheeks. But it also got me thinking about how America, and especially NRIs, are perceived in Indian popular culture. These scams center, they operate on the common belief that all Americans are rich and provide them with the right service to be stupid and fall for scams. The simple realization that some Americans are poor breaks the bubble.
And there is the NRI part of it too! The first of these scam calls was specifically targeting NRIs. Partly I’m sure it’s just plausible, scam kings (and surprisingly there are some people at the top, they come up with the idea and write the script and then just wait for the money to come in) to really push. Know the button to get money from fellow desis. But doesn’t it feel like something personal? These “rich” people who got an education and made it to America should be tricked, shown to be stupid compared to the people at a call center in Bombay, and have more money than they should be anyway. This is another thing that we see in movies, NRIs have won golden tickets and it is fine if we get big dowry from them or whatever is asked for.
And then the poor NRI runner. “Poor” means money. They know that they are doing some strange things, and they are working themselves to death without any life. This is the kind of thing you do when you’re completely desperate. How lucky!!!! Little better than the NRIs hunting these desperate men, and even those back in India who are far better off using them to do dangerous jobs. These are the people who will be arrested, who will have to give back the money, who are right there in the world. And they are making less money! All the money is going to the management.
Runner Boss is scattered around America in nice homes with his wives and children, and Boss is back in India with his luxury vacations and easy life. One of the top scam artists (who comes up with the ideas and writes the script and sets up the center) is also believed to have bought Virat Kohli’s one-of-a-kind Audi luxury car. Another interesting point is that if you are laundering American money, it goes much further in India than in America. NRIs are the golden ticket, but those in the higher echelons of management want to move out of their modest American homes and come back to India where the same money will put them in mansions.
You see why I found this podcast fascinating??? There’s a lot to think about for those of us who think about diaspora issues within Indian culture! And modern India and religion of money and acceptance of corruption and so on. In addition, of course, the possibility of a complex multi-layered Rima-Joya script!
Characters I want:
Long-time loving NRI couple who were both in the scam on the same day, and both confessed and forgave and moved on, even if it saved their lives: Shah Rukh and Kajol
NRI FBI officer who listens to Shah Rukh and Kajol’s story and starts tracking him: Ranveer Singh
Kids In Bombay Rented By Call Center: Sanya Malhotra And Ishaan Khatter, They Just Want To Make Enough To Get Married
The woman who can’t feed her kids in America: Alia Bhatt, she can start a job with FBI officer Ranveer, sent by Sanya and Ishaan, when they manage to reach the FBI
Struggling runner who just wants to earn money to send back home and is the first to talk to Ranveer and help uncover the scam: Vikrant Massey
Evil Genius Sociopath Calls Script Writer: Ranbir Kapoor
Selfish comfortable NRI in charge of runners with wife and kids and home in suburban area: Jim Sarbh
This is the perfect series! Prime, Netflix, doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s brilliantly written and perfectly cast.