15 People and 5 Businesses Indicted in Payday Loan Call Center Scam

Inside Subprime: Sept 13, 2018

By Jessica Easto

Last week, the US Justice Department announced that 15 people and 5 businesses were indicted in a call-center scam that resulted in $5.5 million in losses and affected more than 2,000 people in the United States. Seven individuals were also arrested.

According to reports, the complex scam, which ran from 2012 to 2016, involved both Indian-based call centers and a network of US-based co-conspirators to defraud victims. Operators allegedly called victims and impersonated Internal Revenue Service officials, US Citizenship Immigration Services officials, or individuals offering fake payday loans, according to US Attorney Byung J. Pak. If the potential victims did not comply, the operators would allegedly threaten them with fines, arrest, and imprisonment. If the victims did comply, the call centers allegedly liquidated and laundered payments by purchasing prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, including through Western Union and MoneyGram. The scheme targeted vulnerable US populations, including immigrants and the elderly.

IRS and payday loan phone schemes seek to profit by exploiting United States citizens, including the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Pak. “This indictment and yesterday’s arrests demonstrate our commitment to identifying and prosecuting those who hide behind these types of phone scams.”

According to Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George, the IRS impersonation scam has claimed “more than 14,000 victims who have lost upwards of $71 million” since 2013.

If you suspect that you receiving payday loan scam calls, the FBI recommends that you:

  • Notify your banking institutions.
  • Contact the three major credit bureaus and request an alert be put on your file.
  • Contact your local law enforcement agencies if you feel you are in immediate danger.
  • File a complaint at IC3.gov.

Learn more about how to protect yourself from payday loans and predatory lenders.

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