Indian national sentenced to 16 months in jail in call centre scam

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Published: April 3, 2019 8:41:40 AM

Mehboob Mansurali Charania was convicted in January after he pleaded guilty to engaging in an unlicensed money transfer business.

Indian national sentenced to 16 months in jail in call centre scam (Representational image)

An Indian national has been sentenced to 16 months in jail after being convicted for being part of a call centre scam that victimised over 340 people in the US and resulting in over USD200,000 in losses, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Mehboob Mansurali Charania was convicted in January after he pleaded guilty to engaging in an unlicensed money transfer business.

The sentencing for Charania, who moved to Georgia in 2014, would be followed by three years supervised release, it said.

He has also been ordered to pay a USD100 special assessment, and pay restitution of USD203,958.02 to victims of the scheme.

“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 USD75 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 Department of Justice said.

As per court documents, 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.

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.

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