Washington, DC – Persons of Indian origin in the US and India based businesses were charged this week for their alleged involvement in a transnational criminal operations that victimized over 2,000 people in the US through a fraudulent India-based call-center scheme.
In connection with the scheme which resulted in over $5.5 million in losses, seven individuals were arrested in the US while five call centers in India were charged for their alleged involvement.
Commenting on the case, J. Russell George, US Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration 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.”
Congratulating his investigative team for laboring “many long hours to untangle the intricate web of financial transactions that the defendants allegedly completed as part of a transnational conspiracy to extort money from taxpayers and conceal and disguise the proceeds of their unlawful activities,” the Inspector General noted, “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.”
“IRS and payday loan phone schemes seek to profit by exploiting United States citizens, including the most vulnerable members of our community,” said US Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak, adding, “This indictment and yesterday’s arrests demonstrate our commitment to identifying and prosecuting those who hide behind these types of phone scams.”
“TIGTA will continue to be just as relentless in our pursuit of individuals who fraudulently represent themselves as IRS officials in order to extort money from taxpayers. We will not back down from our pursuit of these criminals, and will continue to work with all law enforcement partners to bring them to justice,” the US attorney cautioned.
The indictment alleged that the defendants were involved in a sophisticated scheme organized by co-conspirators in India, including a network of call centers located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Narendra Modi, the present Indian Prime Minister used to be the Chief Minister of Gujarat for years, before coming to national political scene.
Frequently impersonating officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Indian call centers 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 and then threaten potential victims with arrest, imprisonment, or fines if they did not pay taxes or penalties to the government, the indictment alleged.
If the victims agreed to pay, the call centers 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 further noted.
The indictment charged the following entities and defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering among other allegations:
Excellent Solutions BPO,
ADN Infotech Pvt. Ltd.,
Infoace BPO Solutions Pvt. Ltd.,
Adore Infosource, Inc.,
Zurik BPO Services Pvt. Ltd.,
Shylesh Kumar Sharma,
Nirav Janakbhai Panchal,
Athar Parvez Mansuri,
Mohmmad Samir Memon,
Mohamed Kazim Momin,
Palak Kumar Patel,
Mohmed Sozab Momin,
Devin Bradford Pope,
Nicholas Alezander Deane,
Drue Kyle Riggins, and
Jantz Parrish Miller
Moreover, Mohamed Kazim Momin, Patel, Mohmed Sozab Momin, Pope, Deane, Riggins and Miller were arraigned a day earlier before US Magistrate Judge Janet F. King.
Earlier this year, 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. In a statement on the case, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had called it the “first-ever large scale, multi-jurisdiction prosecution targeting the India call center scam industry.”