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The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that an indictment was unsealed on Oct. 27 charging 61 individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in a transnational criminal organization that has victimized tens of thousands of persons in the United States.
The defendants allegedly participated in what authorities call an IRS collection scam, in which callers tell people they owe money to the IRS and must pay it immediately. The fraudulent schemes have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
Twenty individuals were arrested in the United States and 32 individuals and five call centers in India were charged for their alleged involvement. An additional U.S.-based defendant is currently in the custody of immigration authorities.
The indictment was returned by a grand jury in Texas on Oct. 19, and charges the defendants with conspiracy to commit identity theft, false personation of an officer of the United States, wire fraud and money laundering. One of the defendants is separately charged with passport fraud.
The indictment alleges that the defendants were involved in a scheme organized by conspirators in India, including a network of call centers in Ahmedabad, India. Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, call center operators allegedly called potential victims while impersonating officials from the IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
According to the indictment, the callers threatened victims with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay taxes or penalties. If the victims agreed to pay, the callers immediately turned to a network of U.S.-based co-conspirators to launder the funds by purchasing prepaid debit cards or through wire transfers. Anyone who believes they are a victim is urged to visit www.justice.gov and www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
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