Fifteen people, including some of Indian origin, and five India-based call centers have been charged in the United States over a multi-million dollar scam that allegedly victimized 2,000 people, causing losses worth over $5.5 million.
Seven people were arrested on Sept. 6 for their alleged involvement in the scam, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement. Seven other individuals and five call centers in India were also charged for their alleged involvement.
Those arrested are Mohamed Kazim Momin, Palak Kumar Patel, Mohammed Sozab Momin, Devin Bradford Pope, Nicholas Alezander Deane, Drue Kyle Riggins, and Jantz Parrish Miller. They were presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Janet F. King. The other indicted people are Shylesh Kumar Sharma, Dilipkumar Kodwini, Radhishraj Natarajan, Shubham Sharma, Nirav Janakbhai Panchal, Athar Parvez Mansuri, Mohammad Samir Memon and Rodrigo Leon-Castillo.
“Internal Revenue Service (federal tax agency) and payday loan phone schemes seek to profit by exploiting U.S. citizens, including the most vulnerable members of our community,” U.S. attorney Byung J. Pak said. “This indictment and yesterday’s arrests demonstrate our commitment to identifying and prosecuting those who hide behind these types of phone scams.”
The indictment “makes clear that the IRS impersonation scam has risen to a new level, with indictments against five call centers and seven co-conspirators in India who allegedly directed their employees to participate in the scam,” J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, said in the statement.
“Since 2013, the IRS impersonation scam has been on a relentless path, claiming more than 14,000 victims who have lost upwards of $71 million to the scammers,” George added.
The indictment alleges that the defendants were involved in a sophisticated scheme organized by co-conspirators in India, including a network of call centers in Ahmedabad.
The alleged scammers impersonated as IRS officials or individuals offering fictitious payday loans. They got their details from data brokers and other sources.
The accused would then threaten potential victims with arrest, imprisonment, or fines if they did not pay taxes or penalties to the government, the statement added.
If the victims agreed to pay, call centers in India would pick up from there and would immediately turn to a network of United States-based co-conspirators to launder the extorted funds by purchasing prepaid debit cards or through wire transfers, to the attention of fictitious names and U.S.-based scammers and their co-conspirators.
The five India-based call centers that were indicted were Excellent Solutions BPO, ADN Infotech Pvt. Ltd, Infoace BPO Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Adore Infosource, Inc. and Zurik BPO Services Pvt. Ltd.