These call centers defrauded US residents, including the elderly, by misleading them over the telephone using scams like Social Security and IRS impersonation as well as loan fraud.
US authorities indicted six India-based call centers and their directors for allegedly forwarding scam calls to US citizens. The call centers and their directors were charged with conspiring with the previously indicted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider e-Sampark, and its Director, Gaurav Gupta, for forwarding “tens of millions of scam calls to American consumers.’’
Gupta and E Sampark maintained approximately sixty servers in Florida that the company used at times to connect India-based scam-callers with consumers in the US. The servers contained over 130,000 recordings of scam calls, including robocall voicemail recordings and conversations between the scammers and U.S.-based victims.
According to a release by the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia, the indicted call centers would make the scam calls, which were then forwarded by e-Sampark, through its VoIP service, to scare their victims into paying large sums of money, sometimes defrauding them of their entire lifesavings.
The Indian-based call centers and their directors named in the indictment are as follows:
- Manu Chawla and Achivers A Spirit of BPO Solutions Private Limited;
- Sushil Sachdeva, Nitin Kumar Wadwani, Swarndeep Singh, a/k/a Sawaran Deep Kohli, and Fintalk Global;
- Dinesh Manohar Sachdev and Global Enterprises;
- Gaje Singh Rathore and Shivaay Communication Private Limited;
- Sanket Modi and SM Technomine Private Limited; and
- Rajiv Solanki and Technomind Info Solutions.
The call centers were accused of “misleading victims over the telephone utilizing scams such as Social Security and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) impersonation as well as loan fraud’. Social Security scam involved India-based callers posing as federal agents and misleading their victims into believing that their Social Security numbers were involved in crimes. The IRS scam involved the callers posing as IRS employees, trying to claim back taxes.
The call center scammers also posed as employees of lending institutions and tried to sell fictitious loans. In all these cases, the call centers threatened to arrest the victim if money was not paid. Due to these fraudulent methods, most victims mailed money to a “network of individuals who allegedly laundered funds on behalf of the overseas fraud network’’.
This is not the first time, India-based call centers have been hauled up for scamming Americans. In 2020, Hitesh Madhubhai Patel, aka Hitesh Hinglaj, 44, of Ahmedabad, India, was sentenced for the charges of wire fraud conspiracy and general conspiracy to commit identification fraud, access device fraud, money laundering, and impersonation of a federal officer or employee. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release in the Southern District of Texas for his role in operating and funding India-based call centers that defrauded U.S. victims out of millions of dollars between 2013 and 2016.
Patel was prosecuted in the United States after being extradited from Singapore in April 2019 to face charges in this huge tele-fraud and money laundering scheme. Singapore authorities apprehended Patel at the request of the United States in September 2018, after he flew there from India.
In 2016 also, Justice Department officials had laid charges against 61 people and five India-based call centers saying that the call center scheme had scammed at least 15,000 American victims out of more than $250 million.
They allegedly used “hawalas,” in which money is transferred internationally outside of the formal banking system, to direct the extorted funds to accounts belonging to U.S.-based individuals. According to the indictment, one of the call centers extorted $12,300 from an 85-year-old victim from San Diego, California, after threatening her with arrest if she did not pay fictitious tax violations. The indictment also alleged that the defendants extorted $136,000 from a victim in Hayward, California, who they called several times over a period of 20 days, pretending to be IRS agents and demanding payment for supposed tax violations.