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Another Indian national sentenced by US court in sophisticated call centre scam

twitter-logoPTI | April 3, 2019 | Updated 17:13 IST

By Lalit K Jha (Eds: Updating with more inputs and background) Washington, Apr 3 (PTI) An Indian national has been sentenced to 16 months in jail in the US for his involvement in a sophisticated call centre scheme that victimised over 340 people, resulting in over USD 200,000 in losses, in the latest crackdown on India-based call centre frauds in America. The Department of Justice said Mehboob Mansurali Charania took part in a sophisticated scheme organised in India, that included a network of call centres. Call centre operators called US residents over the telephone and misled the potential victims into sending money utilising a number of different confidence scams, court documents showed. Charania was convicted on January 17, after he pleaded guilty to engaging in an unlicensed money transfer business. Charania, who moved to Tucker, Georgia in 2014, was sentenced to one year, four months in prison to be followed by three years supervised release, and ordered to pay a USD 100 special assessment, and pay restitution of USD 203,958.02 to victims of the scheme, the DoJ said in a press release. "The phone scheme, Charania was a part of, used lies, intimidation, and fear to extort or outright steal from unsuspecting citizens," US Attorney Byung J 'BJay' Pak said. According to Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, J Russell George, since October 2013, more than 15,000 victims have suffered over USD 75 million in losses to the perpetrators of telephone scammers who impersonate Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees. US investigation has identified 140 scammers who, have or are, facing federal criminal proceedings, the DoJ said. The scams included impersonation scams, where the callers pretended to be IRS employees and demanded payment of taxes and fees. Other scams included grant scams, where callers directed victims to pay upfront fees for fictitious grants; student loan scams where callers threatened victims if they did not pay fictitious taxes and fees associated with student loans, and hacking scams, where callers would gain remote access to the victim's computer, lock the victim out of the computer, and deny access to the computer until the victim provided payment. If the victims agreed to pay, the call centres would have the victims send the funds to the attention of fictitious names used by Charania through wire transfers, including through MoneyGram and Western Union. Charania would also conduct hawala money transfers by transferring proceeds to bank accounts as directed by an individual in India. Charania's sentencing came a day after another Indian national was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison for his involvement in an India-based call centre scam. Nishitkumar Patel, 31, who had pleaded guilty to the charges on January 9, has also been asked by a Florida court to pay USD 2,00,000, forfeit cash and a 2015 Land Rover that was seized in October 2018. According to court documents, Patel connived with the US-based co-conspirators and the India-based call centres to extort money from American residents by impersonating IRS officers between 2014 and 2016. The IRS is the revenue service of the United States federal government. PTI LKJ SMJ AKJ AKJ

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