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Feds charge 61 people in $300M call center scam – Fake INS officers threatening victims ‘pay up or arrest and deportation’

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Cops in India raid call center allegedly defrauding US citizens with fake IRS and INS arrest threats
Feds charge 24 in US, 35 people in India with criminal conspiracies in multimillion-dollar Indian call center scam targeting U.S. victims
The 61 through 5 callcenters in India defrauded US citizens of $300M by threatening victims with arrest or deportation
Defendants face charges of conspiracy to commit identity theft, false personation of an officer of the United States, wire fraud and money laundering.
The Department of Justice today, unsealed an indictment charging a total of 61 individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in a transnational criminal conspiracy that has victimized and defrauded tens of thousands of persons in the United States through of hundreds of millions of dollars. In the United States 20 people were arrested. A day earlier police in India also arrested 32 of their accomplices operating five call centers, for their alleged involvement in the criminal organization.  An additional U.S.-based defendant is currently in the custody of immigration authorities.

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A policeman escorts call center employees on the outskirts of Mumbai,  Wednesday , held on suspicion of tricking American citizens into sending them money by posing as U.S. tax officials
The suspects face conspiracy and wire fraud charges in the largest crackdown against a telephone scam ever, officials said.
According to the Justice Dept indictment, callers from centers in India posed as federal Internal Revenue Service agents to threaten victims with lawsuits, arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they didn’t pay up.
Feds estimated, at least 15,000 Americans lost more than $300 million collectively to the four-year scam. Earlier this manth, a Texas grand jury indicted 24 people from nine U.S. states, 32 people from India and five call centers in Ahmedabad, India.
“It’s really important for the scammers in India to know that the United States is looking at this, is watching them and they could, if they engage in that activity, be extradited to the United States and could sit in jail … for several years,” warns U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell.
Suspects arrested, Thursday in India covered their faces while walking to get booked in a video obtained by NBC News.

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Indian call center employees  told their victims they were with the IRS and demanded they pay up or face arrest, lawsuits or deportation

Investigators said the conspirators laundered victims’ money using prepaid debit cards or wire transfers often registered under fake or stolen identities.
Callers claimed to be from the Internal Revenue Service or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A federal agency’s name and Washington, D.C., area codes often showed up on the victims’ phones when they received the calls from the con artists, according to the feds.
The scammers defrauded an 85-year-old San Diego woman of $12,300. Another victim from Hayward, Calif., was lured into buying 276 stored value cards worth $136,000 by a phony IRS agents, according to invstigators.
A victim who would only identify herself by her first name told The Wall Street Journal she was warned to pay $6,850 in back taxes or face arrest the following day. Another victim, a retired military serviceman in his 60s who identified himself as Joseph, lost $25,000, he said.

police-show-the-hard-drives-with-citizens-dataInvestigators in India hold up hard drives seized from the call centers. They also found stacks of cash

“You just don’t think it is going to happen to you,” he told the Journal. “You just don’t think it is going to happen to you.”
The 61 defendants face charges of conspiracy to commit identity theft, false personation of an officer of the United States, wire fraud and money laundering. The feds asked anyone else who may have fallen victim to the scam to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

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