One of the most common scams in the Stateline area was dealt a significant blow on Thursday after a major raid in both the United States and India led to several arrests.
The so-called ‘IRS Scam’ involved a network of call center workers in India who posed as IRS or other federal agents and used the threat of arrest, fines or deportation to intimidate their victims. As many as 15,000 Americans may have fallen victim to it.
An indictment unsealed Thursday revealed that 61 defendants have been swept up in the fraud scheme that prosecutors say stole more than $300 million. Twenty individuals across eight states in the U.S. have been arrested so far, and five call centers in India have been charged.
It was the second time this month that Indian call centers have been implicated in a scam where fraudsters pose as IRS agents. Police in India arrested 70 people working at nine call centers on similar charges.
The Rockford-area Better Business Bureau calls it the area’s #1 scam. “Fake IRS calls have been the top scam reported to the BBB for nearly three years, scaring millions of Americans and scamming people out of tens of millions of dollars,” said Dennis Horton of the Rockford Regional Office of the BBB.
The BBB says it started seeing a dramatic drop in new reports on this scam since police in Mumbai, India, raided that call center earlier this month. Those numbers are expected to continue to fall as Thursday’s sweep has netted at least 20 arrests of suspects in several states including Illinois. BBB Scam Tracker reveals nearly 1 in 4 reports are about phony IRS calls, and also shows reports have dropped about 95% since the first raid.
If you’ve been cheated report the scam to authorities and the BBB Scam Tracker to warn others.
Because the alleged crimes took place in the U.S. where victims were called, prosecutors say they have federal jurisdiction even though many of the defendants are in India.