One of the call centers raided by Thane police.
One of the call centers raided by Thane police.

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Federal prosecutors charged 61 individuals and entities across the globe Thursday in connection to a transnational call center operation that investigators say scammed United States residents out of millions. The arrests came as a result of a three-year investigation between the Department of Justice, Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), and the US Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell called Thursday’s arrests a major breakthrough.

“This is the first ever multi-jurisdictional enforcement action targeting the Indian call center scam industry,” Caldwell said.

According to the Justice Department statement, the fraudsters operating from a call centers in Ahmedabad, used information obtained from data brokers and allegedly called potential victims impersonating officials from the IRS or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Twenty people were arrested in eight different states across the country, while another 32 were apprehended in India, where the operation was based. Several of those charged are still at large, including a man who was last seen working and living in Oakland, Calif. Federal agents believe the scam impacted more than 10,000 U.S. residents, with the money lost amounting to hundreds of millions.

“They laundered money using prepaid debit cards using info from id theft victims,” Caldwell said.

The 81-page indictment comes after Thane police raided over 13 illegal call centers earlier this month in connection with an Internal Revenue Service impersonation scam, in which employees of the call centers extorted about Rs 500 crore from 6,000 US citizens by posing as US tax officials.

Thane Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said they were not aware of the details of the people who have been charged. “I am not aware of the identities of the people who have been charged by the U.S.,” he said.

Even with Thursday’s arrests, federal agents still believe there are a multitude of other operations using this same telephone threatening technique to get people to send them money.