The organizer of a massive phone fraud operation won’t lead another effort anytime soon. One of the biggest IRS scams – wherein fraudsters tried to convince targets they owed the tax-collection authority money and had to pay immediately – no longer has its head in place. While the arrest doesn’t mean a total elimination of such threats, it’s a major strike against one of the most successful of these scams.
The ringleader of the international scam’s U.S. side of operations, Sahil Patel, received a 15-year sentence, according to CNN. The final verdict from the judge came after a guilty plea entered in January. Barring an early release, Patel will remain in prison until 2030, at which point he will enter a supervised release program for three years. Beyond the jail time, Patel also had to forfeit $1 million to the U.S. government, losing most of the $1.2 million the phone fraud operation brought in. According to The Associated Press, Patel was charged with wire fraud among other infractions.
How the scam worked
The international operation relied on call centers in India, where English-speaking scammers tried to convince U.S. residents they owed the IRS money and were significantly in arrears. They used generally aggressive tones and language, along with threats of additional penalties and jail time. The fraudulent callers would instruct anyone thus tricked to purchase pre-paid debit cards to use for settling the debt, obscuring the source and destination of those payments while avoiding common debit and credit card protections like chargebacks and bank interventions.
Avoiding the fraudsters
Despite the many people who didn’t go along with the scam, the operation netted more than a million dollars during approximately two years of operation. With an average loss of $5,000 to $7,000 per successful call, it’s easy to see that many people were confused, frightened, bullied or otherwise convinced to pay into the scam, according to The AP. CNN reported the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s office has logged more than 600,000 such calls through July 6 in 2015.
The last thing anyone wants is to deal with malicious, fraudulent calls like these, especially when repeated calls and high-pressure, blatantly illegal tactics are brought to bear. At Whitepages, we’re dedicated to developing a better, safer and more enjoyable environment for your phone. Our Caller ID app, available for Android devices, lets you decide which calls to take and which to ignore. With identity verification measures in place, you’re better able to protect yourself from fraudulent and malicious incoming calls. Reliable Caller ID gives you the power to choose if and when to answer, creating a more enjoyable experience with your phone. With so many phone scams in operation – along with legitimate but potentially unwanted calls from telemarketers a common occurrence – a comprehensive tool to streamline and secure your smartphone experience is a must.