updated 4/16/2005 9:06:56 AM ET 2005-04-16T13:06:56

Police have arrested 16 people in western India for allegedly cheating four New York-based Citibank customers out of nearly $350,000, a police officer said Saturday.

Three former employees at a call center in the city of Pune and 13 of their associates have been charged with misusing financial data and illegally withdrawing money from the accounts of the New York-based customers, said Sanjay Jadhav, an assistant commissioner of police.

Nine of the suspects were in custody and being questioned for their role in the money transfer fraud, while seven were remanded to judicial custody, he said.

Jadhav said the call center employees befriended the customers by “talking pleasantly” to them and then “obtained the personal identification number of the customers and used the international wire transfer system to move the funds.”

Three employees at that call center transferred cash from customers accounts and shared sensitive financial information with friends outside the company, police said.

The fraud became known when Citibank customers complained about unauthorized money transfers and the bank traced them to Pune, Jadhav said.

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