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Major Advance to End IRS Tax Scams - 61 Indicted on $50 Million Conspiracy

The Department of Justice unsealed an indictment today charging 61 individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in a call center scam that has victimized tens of thousands of U.S. citizens and resulted in losses totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Twenty individuals were arrested in the U.S. and other individuals and entities in India were charged with conspiracy to commit identity theft, false personation of an officer of the United States, wire fraud, and money laundering.

"Today's actions will not only bring a sense of justice to the victims in this case, but this significant investigation will also help increase awareness of this type of fraud," said Executive Associate Director Peter T. Edge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The indictments are the result of a three-year investigation carried out by multiple government agencies.

According to the indictment, call center operators in India posing as IRS officials contacted potential victims and threatened them if they did not pay purported taxes or penalties to the government. U.S.-based co-conspirators liquidated and laundered funds received using prepaid debit cards or wire transfers. Victims of the call center scam included several California residents, including an 85-year-old woman from San Diego from whom they extorted $12,300, and another individual in Hayward, California, who lost $136,000 to the scammers.

"To potential victims," said Edge, "our message today is simple: U.S. government agencies do not make these types of calls, and if you receive one, contact law enforcement to report the suspected scam before you make a payment."

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