(Image source from: Free Press Journal)
About 15 people, including an Indian origin, and five India-based businesses were charged on Friday in the multimillion-dollar call center scam which defrauded thousands of the United States citizens of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Seven persons were arrested in the U.S. on Thursday for their alleged involvement in a scam that victimized over 2,000 American nationals, resulting in over USD 5.5 million in losses.
Mohamed Kazim Momin, Palak Kumar Patel, Mohmed Sozab Momin, Rodrigo Leon-Castillo, Devin Bradford Pope, Nicholas Alezander Deane, Drue Kyle Riggins, and Jantz Parrish Miller were arrested and arraigned yesterday before the U.S. magistrate, Judge Janet F King, officials said.
Five call centers and seven defendants in India were also charged for their alleged involvement, they added.
"This indictment and yesterday's arrests demonstrate our commitment to identifying and prosecuting those who hide behind these types of phone scams," said the U.S. Attorney Byung J Pak.
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, J Russell George said: "This 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."
The Inspector General also noted that since 2013, the IRS impersonation scam has been on a relentless path, claiming more than 14,000 victims who have lost upwards of USD 71 million to the scammers.
The indictment alleged that the defendants were involved in a sophisticated scheme organized by co-conspirators in India, including a network of call centers situated in Ahmedabad.
The defendants, between 2012 and 2016, perpetrated a complex money laundering and fraud scheme in which individuals from call centers located in Ahmedabad oftentimes impersonated officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a ruse designed to defraud victims located throughout America.
The Indian call centers used assorted telephone fraud schemes to defraud chiefly vulnerable Americans, including the elderly and legal immigrants.
Using information acquired from data brokers and some other sources, call center operators allegedly called potential victims while portraying officials from the IRS or individuals offering fictitious payday loans.
The call center operators would then threaten potential victims with apprehension, imprisonment, or fines if they did not pay taxes or penalties to the authorities, the indictment alleges.
If the victims agreed to pay, the call centers allegedly would immediately turn to a network of the U.S.-based co-conspirators to liquidate and launder the extorted funds by purchasing prepaid debit cards or through wire transfers, including through MoneyGram and Western Union, to the attention of fictitious names and the U.S.-based defendants and their co-conspirators, it said.
The five India-based call centers that have been indicted are ADN Infotech Pvt. Ltd, Excellent Solutions BPO, Adore Infosource, Inc., Infoace BPO Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Zurik BPO Services Pvt. Ltd.
Apart from Mohamed Kazim Momin, Patel, Mohmed Sozab Momin, Pope, Deane, Riggins and Miller, the others who were indicted include - Shylesh Kumar Sharma, Dilipkumar Kodwini, Radhishraj Natarajan, Shubham Sharma, Nirav Janakbhai Panchal, Athar Parvez Mansuri, Mohammad Samir Memon, Rodrigo Leon-Castillo.
Earlier, 21 Indian-origin persons in the U.S. and three Indians were sentenced up to 20 years of imprisonment for their participation in the same fraud and money laundering strategy.
By Sowmya Sangam