As the culmination of a five year joint investigation by numerous federal agencies led by the Justice Department, twenty-one individuals were sentenced last week for their roles in a huge multinational telephone fraud operation in which the callers in India posed as IRS agents threatening the people receiving their calls with arrest if they did not pay bogus claims for unpaid income taxes. The scam, which operated for four years scammed more than 15,000 people in the United States out of hundreds of millions of dollars. The scam was done by conspirators in both the United States and India although the call centers were all located in Ahmedabad India. The scammers obtained the names of their potential victims from various legitimate data brokers.
According to the Justice Department,the scammers used a network of co-conspirators in the United States to launder the funds obtained from the victims, most often through prepaid debit cards or wire transfers.  The prepaid debit cards were laundered using information stolen from thousands of identity theft victims.  The biggest amount paid by a victim of this scam was paid by a Californian who paid $136,000 to the scammers.
Of the criminals sentenced, Mitsehkumar Patel of Illinois received the longest sentence of twenty years.
This scam is easy to avoid.  Don’t trust your Caller ID because by using a technique called spoofing, a scammer can make his or her call appear to be from the IRS on your Caller ID.  Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.  The easiest way to recognize if a call from the IRS demanding money is a scam is to be aware of the fact that the IRS will never initiate contact with a taxpayer to collect overdue taxes by a phone call, email or text message. Any such communication is from a scammer so you should just ignore it.   Additionally, unlike the IRS, the scammers often demand that payments be made immediately by prepaid debit cards, wired funds or even iTunes gift cards, which is something that the IRS will never do.
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