US: Over 20 Indian-origin persons sentenced in massive call-center scam
Over 20 Indian-origin persons in the US have been sentenced for up to 20 years in prison for their involvement in a multimillion-dollar India-based call center scam, defrauding thousands of US citizens of hundreds of millions of dollars. The prison sentences for the convicted range from 4-20 years. Several of the convicted will be deported to India after completion of their sentence. Here's more.
US Attorney General dubs the case 'a significant victory'
"This case represents one of the most significant victories to date in our continuing efforts to combat elder fraud and the victimization of the most vulnerable members of the US public," US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.
Ahmedabad call center individuals impersonate IRS, immigration officials
Between 2012-2016, the conspirators perpetrated a complex fraud and money-laundering scheme, in which individuals from call centers located in Ahmedabad impersonated officials from the Internal Revenue Service or US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, conspirators targeted US victims threatened with arrest, imprisonment, or deportation if they did not pay the alleged money owed to the government.
Victims were asked to purchase stored value cards
Victims who agreed to pay the scammers were instructed how to make a payment, including by purchasing stored value cards or wiring money. Once the payment was done, the call centers turned to a network of runners based in the US to liquidate and launder the extorted funds as quickly as possible by purchasing reloadable cards or retrieving wire transfers, the Justice Department said.
Victims included senior citizens, legal immigrants
Prosecutors said the Indian call centers used various telephone fraud schemes to defraud mainly vulnerable Americans, including the elderly and legal immigrants.
The stored-value cards were loaded with scam funds
In a typical scenario, call centers directed runners to purchase these stored-value reloadable cards and transmit the unique card number to India-based co-conspirators, who registered the cards using the misappropriated personal identifying information of the US citizens. They then loaded these cards with scam-funds obtained from the victims. The runners used the stored-value cards to purchase money orders deposited into another person's bank account.
5 India-based call centers were also charged with money laundering
The indictment also charged 32 India-based conspirators and five India-based call centers with general conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering. These defendants have not yet been arraigned. Earlier, three other Indians were sentenced for their involvement in the same fraud and money laundering scheme.