An indian man and his Texan counterpart pleaded guilty on Wednesday this week in a court in the Eastern District of Texas for scamming U.S Victims through telephone impersonations. The two scammed their victims by pretending to be government officials. Montu Barot is an Indian national who resided in Glendale Heights, Illinois while Nilesh Pandya was a resident of Stafford, Texas. They both admitted having committed fraud and money laundering crimes.

How the crimes were committed

According to their admissions in court, Montu, Nilesh, and others operated a call center located in Ahmedabad, India and used it to scam U.S victims by pretending to be U.S.

Citizenship and Immigration Services and IRS officials. The scammers began scamming victims by obtaining their information from data brokers. Victims were then called and threatened with arrest, fines, imprisonment, and deportation if they failed to pay money they owed the U.S government. Victims were instructed to make the payments by wiring money or by purchasing stored value cards. The scammers then turned to runners in the U.S after receiving the payments to liquidate and launder the illegally acquired funds.

Montu and Nilesh's involvement in the scam

Montu began participating in the scam in or around June 2012. He worked as the scams runner by liquidating victims funds. He and others used reloadable cards that contained victims funds and used them to purchase money orders. He then deposited the money orders into bank accounts and received a commission from his counterparts in return.

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He also sent financial ledgers to his fellow scammers that detailed the status of the victim's funds. Nilesh began participating in the scam in or around March 2014. He also worked as a runner by liquidated victims funds. Just like Montu, he used stored value cards to launder and liquidate victims funds.

To date, 56 individuals and five India-based call centers have been charged for their involvement in the scheme. A total of thirteen people has pleaded guilty in a case that began on October 19, 2016. Guilty pleas by others were made between April and July 2017.

IRS impersonation scams

The treasury inspector general for Tax Administration last year stated that scammers continue to target taxpayers by calling them pretending to be I.R.S officials. Scammers threaten victims for non-payment of money they owe the government. Over one million Americans received such calls in the first three months of last year according to the IRS. About $29 million was lost to scammers during that period.