In an investigation involving officials with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Treasury, Homeland Security and Justice departments charged 61 persons Thursday with fraudulent scheme which swindled 15,000 people of over $300 million since 2013.
In sum, 20 individuals were arrested in the United States and another 32 were arrested in India where the scam was operated.
Officials believe the India-based deception utilized call centers manned by individuals who posed as IRS agents attempting to persuade the victims they owed back payments to the U.S. tax collecting agency.
The ploy saw the call centers contact individuals and demand payments through threats of arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if the fake payments were not made.
The scam, which functioned from Ahmedabad, India, also saw victims’ money laundered by a group of Americans who used prepaid debit cards or wore transfers and used stolen or fake identities.
Addressing the media after the indictments were handed down, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell told reporters she would seek the extradition of those involved from India.
“It’s really important for the scammers in India to know that the United States is looking at this, is watching them and they could, if they engage in that activity, be extradited to the United Sates and could sit in jail . . . for several years,” Caldwell said.
The effect on some individual U.S. citizens was devastating, as one Hayward, Calif., man was conned out of $136,000 and another elderly female victim from San Diego lost $12,300.
[Reuters] [CNN Money] [Photo courtesy Danish Siddiqui/Reuters via Wall Street Journal]