Fifteen people, including some of Indian-origin, and five India-based call centres have been indicted in a multi-million call centre scam that victimized thousands of people in the US.
Seven people were arrested on Thursday in the US for their alleged involvement in the scam that victimized over 2,000 people, resulting in over $5.5 million in losses, the US Justice Department said in a press release on Friday.
Seven defendants and five call centres in India were also charged for their alleged involvement, officials said.
Mohamed Kazim Momin, Palak Kumar Patel, Mohammed Sozab Momin, Devin Bradford Pope, Nicholas Alezander Deane, Drue Kyle Riggins and Jantz Parrish Miller were arraigned before US Magistrate Judge Janet F. King.
"Internal Revenue Service (federal tax agency) and payday loan phone schemes seek to profit by exploiting US citizens, including the most vulnerable members of our community," said US Attorney Byung J. Pak.
"This indictment and yesterday's arrests demonstrate our commitment to identifying and prosecuting those who hide behind these types of phone scams."
"This indictment makes clear that the IRS impersonation scam has risen to a new level, with indictments against five call centres and seven co-conspirators in India who allegedly directed their employees to participate in the scam," said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
The indictment alleged that the defendants were involved in a "sophisticated scheme organized by co-conspirators in India, including a network of call centres in Ahmedabad".
Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, the accused allegedly called potential victims while impersonating officials from the IRS or individuals offering fictitious payday loans.
The accused would then threaten potential victims with arrest, imprisonment, or fines if they did not pay taxes or penalties to the government.
If the victims agreed to pay, the Indian call centres allegedly would immediately turn to a network of US-based co-conspirators to liquidate and launder the extorted funds by purchasing prepaid debit cards or through wire transfers, to the attention of fictitious names and US-based defendants and their co-conspirators.
The five India-based call centres 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.
The other indicted people were Shylesh Kumar Sharma, Dilipkumar Kodwini, Radhishraj Natarajan, Shubham Sharma, Nirav Janakbhai Panchal, Athar Parvez Mansuri, Mohmmad Samir Memon and Rodrigo Leon-Castillo.