After a three-year investigation, the Department of Justice arrested 56 people in the US, and five call centers in India, accused of running a phony IRS phone call scheme.
The case involves over 15,000 victims and more than $300 million in stolen money.
Starting in 2013, the scammers initially used the “Grandma scam”, calling or emailing a senior citizen pretending to be a grandchild that needs money to get out of jail.
The scheme soon became an IRS scam. Victims were called and told that unless they paid money immediately, they would be arrested, face deportation or have their driver’s license suspended. Sometimes they even had the victim’s last four digits of their Social Security number.
They would direct their victims to either wire money or go to a store and load cash onto a prepaid debit card, and then the US based co-conspirators would liquidate or launder the funds using fake names and phony IDs.
The largest payout to the scammers was a Hayward, CA man who lost over $136,000.