A gang from India’s Madhya Pradesh state, reported to have cheated US citizens of hundreds of thousands of dollars through Bitcoin and other methods has been busted and its members arrested. The gang ran its operations out of three call centres and estimated to have cheated people of around $1.7 million.
Newspaper reports say the 78-member gang, aged between 18 and 32 years, had reportedly obtained the social security and cell phone numbers of around 100,000 US citizens.
Gang members would pose as Social Security administration employees and contact US citizens to warn them that their numbers were being used for “suspicious activities” such as smuggling narcotics and money laundering.
The callers would then demand payments of between $50 and $5,000. Victims would be threatened with arrests and their social security numbers getting blocked if they didn’t comply.
The callers would tell them that for settling the issue they have to pay certain amount otherwise their social security number will be blocked and legal action initiated against them. Victims paid up through gift cards, Bitcoin and other online modes.
The police raid on the call centres resulted in the retrieval of 70 cellphones, 60 computers, a server and other devices.
Three months ago the Federal Trade Commission disclosed that over 63,000 reports regarding fake SSA calls had been filed with the government body since January 2018. About 3% of those who received the fake SSA calls, around 1890, lost money to the scammers.
The total money lost in the scam during that period was $16.6 million with the median loss being $1,484. The FTC did not indicate what percentage was paid in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.