Defendant arraigned in phone scam targeting U.S. victims
ATLANTA – Mehboob Mansurali Charania was arraigned on charges relating to his involvement in a transnational criminal organization that victimized over 340 people in the United States through a fraudulent India-based call-center scheme, resulting in over $200,000 in losses. Charania was indicted by a federal grand jury on November 6, 2018.
“Telephone scammers seek to profit by exploiting United States citizens, including the elderly and other vulnerable members of our community,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Citizens should be wary of anyone demanding money over the phone.”
“Since 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has investigated numerous instances in which individuals who fraudulently represent themselves as IRS officials in order to extort money from taxpayers,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “We will not back down from our pursuit of these criminals, and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring them to justice.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court: The indictment alleges that the defendant took part in a sophisticated scheme organized in India, including a network of call centers. Call center operators allegedly telephoned U.S. residents and misled the potential victims into sending money utilizing a number of different confidence scams.
The scams included IRS impersonation scams where the callers pretended to be IRS employees demanding payment of taxes and fees. Other scams included grant scams where callers directed victims to pay upfront fees for fictitious grants, student loan scams where callers threatened victims if they did not pay fictitious taxes and fees associated with student loans, and hacking scams where callers would gain remote access to the victim’s computer, lock the victim out of the computer, and deny access to the computer until the victim provided payment.
If the victims agreed to pay, the call centers allegedly would have the victims send the funds to the attention of fictitious names used by Charania through wire transfers, including through MoneyGram and Western Union. The indictment charges Charania with wire fraud and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.
Charania, a citizen of India residing in Atlanta, was arraigned on November 7, 2018 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Justin S. Anand. Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Assistant U.S Attorney Jolee Porter is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.