Thursday, October 13, 2016
Catching IRS fraudsters proves the scale and profitability of impersonation cons
Fraudsters who posed as IRS officials threatened hardworking Americans with imprisonments for the crime of tax default. Their modus operandi was simple; question victims about defaulting on their tax payments, threaten legal action, arrest, deportation or suspension of business rights, and finally offer an easy way out – a chance to close the case without prosecution for a onetime deposit in a bank account or alternatively getting the bank account details of the victim which were then wiped clean.
Incredible as it may seem, the con was so successful that the kingpin lived a life of 5 star luxury, with fancy cars and hotel stays. In a short span of two years he amassed significant wealth and employed over a 700 people in several call centers across India and the US. Most of these call centers were owned by trusted associates and employed high school graduates or drop outs who they lured with high pay and luxurious lifestyles.
Income earned in dollars was converted into India rupees using illegal money laundering channels called Hawala. All employees were paid in cash. Call center executives were offered incentives based on the income they generated from these frauds, and the ones that performed were even offered a chance to work directly with the kingpin, in his home city of Ahmedabad, Gujarat while being put up in 3 and 4 star hotels.
Fortunately, India takes these crimes seriously, and once reported, Mumbai police detectives over a period of 15 days, went incognito and surveyed these call centers before busting them and arresting over 50 people. All convicted will be tried under the Indian IT act and penal code.
There are however, several countries that do not take action on these crimes as the victims are not citizens of their countries.
Cybercitizen’s are advised to be wary about calls which ask for personal information and money in some form or the other.