Some good news for those who have experienced this scam or know people who have been duped by the same:
With stiff sentences for 21 conspirators last week in the United States and a round of indictments in India, the Justice Department says it has broken up what appeared to be the nation’s first large-scale, multinational telephone fraud operation.
Over four years, more than 15,000 victims in the United States lost “hundreds of millions” of dollars to the sophisticated scam, and more than 50,000 individuals had their personal information misused, the department said Friday. The money was routed through call centers in India back to the ringleaders in eight states.
The fraudulent calls came suddenly and frequently while the scam was active from 2012 to 2016, according to court documents. A person posing as an Internal Revenue Service or immigration official was on the phone, threatening arrest, deportation or other penalties if the victims did not immediately pay their debts with prepaid cards or wire transfers.
In an announcement on Friday, the department said 21 people living in eight states — Illinois, Arizona, Florida, California, Alabama, New Jersey and Texas — were sentenced last week in Houston to prison for up to 20 years for their role in the scheme.
In addition, 32 contractors in India involving five call centers in Ahmedabad, a city in western India, have been indicted on wire fraud, money laundering and other conspiracy charges as part of the operation, the department said.
As always, remain vigilant about supposed IRS claims, and never accept or believe any calls from people purporting to be the IRS. The IRS never demands immediate payment (e.g. wire transfers or gift cards), or threatens to bring in the police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement. Communication always begins over snail mail. Hopefully these arrests will serve as a warning to others trying to prey on vulnerable populations.