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U.S. Charges 61 Over India-Based IRS Impersonation Scam

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U.S. Charges 61 Over India-Based IRS Impersonation Scam


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department charged 61 people on Thursday with taking part in a scam involving India-based call centers where people impersonated Internal Revenue Service, immigration and other federal officials and demanded payments for non-existent debts.

The scam, which had operated since 2013, targeted at least 15,000 people who lost more than $300 million, the department said in a statement.

The defendants, who were indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on Oct. 19, included 32 people at five Indian call centers and 24 people in nine U.S. states, the statement said.

The indictment said the operators of the call centers in Ahmedabad, in the Indian state of Gujarat, “threatened potential victims with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay taxes or penalties to the government.”

Payments by victims were laundered by a U.S. network of co-conspirators using prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, often using stolen or fake identities, the statement said.

The call centers also ran scams in which victims were offered short-term loans or grants on condition of providing good-faith deposits or payment of a processing fee, it said.

The investigation involved Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Treasury, Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service and police officials, the Justice Department said.

(Reporting by Eric Walsh; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Frances Kerry)

Photo: A security camera hangs near a corner of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst



  1. Beethoven October 27, 2016

    I received quite a few calls over the past couple of years that were probably a part of this scam. I never answered the calls, but the caller left a message on my answering machine telling whoever might be listening that federal marshals would be coming to my house within the next couple of days to arrest whoever was listening to the message (they never gave the name of the person who was allegedly subject to arrest) unless someone immediately called a certain number to take care of the serious matter. The caller always gave a name that sounded typically American, but spoke with an Indian accent. I never responded to any of these calls, and simply erased the message, and no one ever showed up to arrest me or anyone else.

    1. TZToronto October 30, 2016

      People in Canada get similar calls, but it’s the CRA, Canada Revenue Agency, that is supposedly calling. The quality of the voicemail is usually pretty bad, and it’s a mystery to me why the CRA would warn people that they’re about to be arrested. Like you, I erase the messages.

  2. I of John October 27, 2016

    There is a circle of hell designated for bastards like these.

  3. Aaron_of_Portsmouth October 27, 2016

    What would make certain citizens in India commit such a reprehensible scheme? Is it a combination of ancient ways of thinking which have become so distorted by the passage of times and changing trends? Are the institutions representing Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity so corrupt that the respective adherents there have remained stuck in time and who are unable to marshal virtues that redound to the benefit of India and its peoples?
    These are questions that India’s Religious Leaders need to meet together and consult about, just as similar entities in America, Europe, and Middle Eastern countries must do as well.

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  5. Wayneo November 2, 2016

    I hope that the US does something more than just charge them.

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