Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the nation’s first large scale multi-jurisdiction prosecution that targeted call center scams in India.
According to U.S. officials, the thieves used call centers overseas and then routed the money to conspirators in the United States.
Here’s how it worked — a person posing as an IRS or immigration official called the victims threatening arrest or deportation if the victim didn’t pay them using prepaid cards or wire transfers. Between 2012 and 2016, thousands of Americans fell victim to this fraud.
In all, 21 people in these eight states were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Alabama, New Jersey and Texas and two neighboring states Arizona and California. Three other conspirators in Arizona and Illinois were sentenced back in February.
Thirty-two contractors from five calls centers in India have also been indicted on wire fraud and money laundering charges but haven’t been arraigned yet.
Here’s what you need to know so you don’t fall victim to this type of fraud:
The IRS will usually mail a bill to a taxpayer who owes money and allow questions or an appeal. IRS officials will never threaten immediate arrest or threaten to bring in police or immigration officers. And the IRS doesn’t demand immediate payment and it doesn’t ask for specific ways to pay like a prepaid debit, gift card or wire transfer.
In this case, 22 of the defendants sentenced were ordered to pay $8.9 million back to victims who could be identified.
But often victims do not get any money back.