As many as 15 people, including Indian-origin, and five India-based businesses were indicted on Friday in the multimillion-dollar call centre scam which defrauded thousands of US citizens of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Seven persons were arrested in the US on Thursday for their alleged involvement in scam that victimised over 2,000 American nationals, resulting in over $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 a US magistrate, Judge Janet F King, officials said.
Seven defendants and five call centres 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 US 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 centres 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 $71 million to the scammers.
The indictment alleged that the defendants were involved in a sophisticated scheme organised by co-conspirators in India, including a network of call centres located in Ahmedabad.
Between 2012 and 2016, the defendants perpetrated a complex fraud and money laundering scheme in which individuals from call centres located in Ahmedabad frequently impersonated officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a ruse designed to defraud victims located throughout America.
The Indian call centres used various telephone fraud schemes to defraud mainly vulnerable Americans, including the elderly and legal immigrants.
Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, call centre operators allegedly called potential victims while impersonating officials from the IRS or individuals offering fictitious payday loans.
The call centre operators would then threaten potential victims with arrest, imprisonment, or fines if they did not pay taxes or penalties to the government, the indictment alleges.
If the victims agreed to pay, the 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, including through MoneyGram and Western Union, to the attention of fictitious names and US-based defendants and their co-conspirators, it said.
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, Mohmmad Samir Memon, Rodrigo Leon-Castillo.
Earlier, 21 Indian-origin persons in the US and three Indians were sentenced up to 20 years in prison for their involvement in the same fraud and money laundering scheme.