US court sentences 21 people in huge call centre scam based in India

A United States (US) court has sentenced 21 Indian-origin people for up to 20 years in prison for involvement in a multi-million dollar India-based call centre scam, NDTV reported.

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According to reports, the scandal defrauded thousands of US citizens of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The US Justice Department said the defendants and their conspirators perpetrated a complex fraud and money laundering scheme in which individuals from call centres located in Ahmedabad impersonated officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or US Citizenship and Immigration Services in a ruse designed to fleece victims located throughout America.

Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, these call center operators targeted US citizens and threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay the alleged money owed to the government, the Justice Department added.

Victims who agreed to pay the scammers were instructed how to make a payment, including by purchasing stored value cards or wiring the money.

Once the payment was done, the call centres would connect to a network of runners based in the US to liquidate and launder the extorted funds as quickly as possible by purchasing reloadable cards or retrieving wire transfers, the Justice Department said.

The indictment for the case also charged 32 India-based conspirators and five India-based call centres with general conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy.

Earlier, three other Indians were sentenced for their involvement in the same fraud and money laundering scheme.

Several of the convicted will be deported to India after the completion of their sentence.

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