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Citibank customer theft threatens reputation of offshore call centres

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13th Apr 2005
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India's outsourcing companies are introducing a national screening programme to try and limit the potential damage caused by revelations this week that offshore call centre staff stole $350,000 from Citibank customers.

The industry was rocked after it came to light that three former employees of Indian business process outsourcing provider Mphasis, which runs call centre services for Citibank’s US clients in Bangalore and Pune, were arrested in connection with the incident along with nine other gang members.

The three former personnel apparently stole the phone numbers of four Citibank customers and tricked them into giving the PIN numbers to their accounts during an off-site call. The accused then used the numbers to transfer funds into the bank accounts of other members of the group.

The fraud was only discovered when the customers noticed that the money was missing and Citibank traced the transaction back to Mphasis in Pune.

Although Mphasis said the incident was "regrettable"it indicated that initial investigations showed that its security procedures and detection systems had worked and timely enforcement ensured that culprits couldn’t get away with such acts.

In a PR faux pas, however, it also added that the fraud "could not have been prevented as some gullible customers have parted with their passwords/pass-codes carelessly."

Meanwhile, despite the fact that Mphasis said the accused had no prior criminal records and passed all reference checks, the National Association of Software and Service Companies in India has now stepped in to try and calm nerves.

The organisation’s goal is to enable existing or potential staff in India’s burgeoning software development and outsourcing industry to register their details in a national database. These details would then be checked and verified by an agency and potential employers could pay for information about staff backgrounds during the hiring process.

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