17:30 GMT06 June 2020
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    The US government has arrested 20 people and charged 32 others in connection with an international call center scam responsible for stealing $250 million from 15,000 people, the Department of Justice said in a press release on Thursday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Nearly 15,000 people in the United States fell victim to the scheme, paying about $250 million to the scammers, Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth explained.

    "In connection with the scheme, 20 individuals were arrested today in the United States and 32 individuals and five call centers in India were charged for their alleged involvement," the release stated. "An additional US-based defendant is currently in the custody of immigration authorities."

    According to the Justice Department, the conspirators targeted immigrants or elderly people, impersonated US Internal Revenue Service or immigration agents, and threatened victims with criminal charges or deportation if they did not pay thousands of dollars in alleged overdue taxes or fines.

    Roth said the scam’s perpetrators were able to trick US citizens in to believing they would be deported if they did not comply with the financial demands.

    The criminal ring used an informal financial transfer system known as "hawala" to transfer the extorted funds to US-based individuals who were not aware the money was stolen, the Justice Department said.


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