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WASHINGTON: Three Indian-Americans are among eight people sentenced by a US court for their roles in a sophisticated India-based call center fraud scheme that defrauded thousands of Americans, resulting in over USD 3.7 million in losses.

Those sentenced on Monday were Mohamed Kazim Momin, 33, (Georgia); Rodrigo Leon-Castillo, 46, (Texas); Mohmed Sozab Momin, 23, (Georgia); Drue Kyle Riggins, 24, (Georgia); Nicholas Alexander Deane, 26, (Georgia), Palak Kumar Patel, 30, (Georgia), Jantz Parrish Miller, 25, (Georgia) and Devin Bradford Pope, 25, (Georgia).

Their sentences ranged from six months to four years and nine months in prison.

US Attorney Byung J “BJay” Pak said that according to the charges and other information presented in the court, these defendants were involved in a sophisticated scheme organised by co-conspirators in India, including a network of call centers in Ahmedabad.

Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, call center operators called potential victims while impersonating officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or individuals offering fictitious payday loans, federal prosecutors said.

The call center operators would then threaten potential victims with arrest, imprisonment, or fines if they did not pay taxes or penalties to the government. “IRS and payday loan phone schemes seek to profit by exploiting United States citizens, including the elderly and most vulnerable members of our community,” said US Attorney Pak.

The US will prosecute companies and individuals in India and in this country who choose to steal from vulnerable victims, he said. These eight people were charged along with five Indian call centers and seven Indian nationals in a 27-count indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in september 2018. The government is seeking extradition of Indian nationals.

“If the victims agreed to pay, the call centers would immediately turn to a network of US-based co-conspirators to liquidate and launder the extorted funds by purchasing prepaid debit cards or through wire transfers, including through MoneyGram and Western Union, to the attention of fictitious names and US-based defendants and their co-conspirators,” said the Department of Justice. PTI