A massive phone scam, which cheated around 15,000 people out of over $250 million, has been busted by US and Indian authorities and 61, including 20 in the US, are charged with the crime, reports The Washington Post. The scheme involved fake calls from call centers in India with the accused posing as officials from the Internal Revenue Service or immigration services and threatening victims with arrest and penalties if not paid outstanding tax dues.
According to the US Justice Department, scammers in India worked in tandem with co-conspirators in the US to steal personal details of victims from Facebook and other online sources and make the calls which had US government caller ID. The money forced out of their victims was used to buy prepaid debit cards or sent outside the US illegally.
The defendants, arrested on charges including identity theft and wire fraud, also cheated victims out of so-called deposit money in promise for a loan or grant.
Leslie Caldwell of the Justice Department said official agencies would never call to seek dues. “If you get one of these calls,” she said, “it is not the U.S. government calling you.”
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