New York, April 3 (IANS) The crackdown on India-based call centre fraud continues in the US with the sentencing of yet another Indian for his role in a scam that ripped off $200,000 from over 340 people here.
Mehboob Mansurali Charania was sentenced to 16 months in prison by Federal Judge Steve Jones in Atlanta on Tuesday.
This was the second sentencing of an Indian this week in a fraud involving the the use of India-based call centres. In a separate case, a federal judge in Florida had hit Nishitkumar Patel on Monday with a prison term of more than eight years. Three of his accomplices were awaiting sentencing.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, J. Russell George, said: "Our investigations have identified 140 scammers who, like Mr. Charania, have or are, facing federal criminal proceedings."
More than 15,000 victims have suffered over $75 million in losses since October 2013 to telephone scammers impersonating tax officials, he added.
Federal prosecutor Byung J. Pak said that Charania was part of "a sophisticated scheme organised in India, that included a network of call centres", which "used lies, intimidation, and fear to extort or outright steal from unsuspecting citizens".
The prosecutor's office said in a statement that the scams included impersonation of US tax officials to claim the victim owed back taxes, soliciting upfront payments for fictitious grant programmes and computer hacking that would lock out the the user and demand a ransom to free it.
Charania collected the money and sent it to India using a hawala scheme, the statement said.
In October 2016 alone, five Indian companies and 56 persons, most of them of Indian descent, were charged with participating in similar schemes.