P.T. Barnum once said that there is “a sucker born every minute,” while one might expect to use that quote to describe how Donald Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, in this case, I’m flabbergasted that people would fall for such a scam over the phone and often cough up huge amounts of money to people claiming to be from the IRS.
Over 60 entities and individuals charged with fraud and conspiracy worldwide
The U.S. Department of Justice is finally handing down indictments for a wide-ranging scam that saw around 15,000 bilked out of over $300 million by call center employees claiming to represent government agencies including the IRS.
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Five call centers and 56 individuals including about two dozen in the United States were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit identity theft, false personation of an officer of the United States, money laundering, and wire fraud but only today were only made public today when the paperwork was unsealed.
Using five call centers in Ahmedabad India, the ringleaders recruited operators to call the people in the United States and impersonate government officials, most of the time claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service.
The callers would claim that back taxes were owed in these cases and threatened the person on the other end with an imminent arrest. While most people called certainly didn’t fall for this, it’s amazing how many did once pushed for payment to settle the false claims.
“One 85-year-old California woman was threatened over nonexistent tax violations,” Carrie Johnson reported on NPR. “Prosecutors say she turned over $12,000 to the scammers.”
The New York Times has reported that one man in California paid over $130,000 to settle a nonexistent problem with the IRS.
“This case is massive,” said John Roth, the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, and it “touched every part of the United States.”
While there were a number indicted in the United States the bulk of the indictments were filed against Indian citizens and the DOJ is hoping that India will help with the extradition of those complicit in the crime and indicted last week.
Quite simply, no one from the IRS would ever call you and make such accusations and instructs any one who receives a similar call to contact law enforcement or simply hang up the phone. Certainly, don’t start sending money using dodgy means of payment like the Hawala system of money transfers.