2 Sugar Land residents indicted in India call center fraud case

- Two of the 61 people charged in a transnational crime ring that has swindled millions of dollars from U.S. residents through call centers in India are from Sugar Land. They have been identified in a federal indictment as 46-year-old Sunny Joshi and 52-year-old Rajeesh Bhatt.

Joshy and Bhatt were arrested on Thursday, according to court documents. They are accused of operating as domestic call center managers from an office in Sugar Land. They negotiated crew payouts and directed call center operators in India.

The Department of Justice says 15,000 people were affected by the fraud scheme throughout the U.S. and cumulatively, those people lost millions of dollars.

The crime ring targeted victims in the U.S. by impersonating the IRS, immigration officials, police and other state and local government officials, according to investigators. And that's not all they did.

Victims received threatening calls and were told that if they didn't fork over their cash, the IRS would arrive at their homes, arrest them and potentially deport them. One victim from California allegedly paid a call center operator $136,000, according to court documents.

Christina Garza, public affairs specialist for FBI Houston, says if anyone calls you asking for money, don't pay unless you investigate first because the government would never solicit money over the phone.

"Please do not send them money, instead call that agency directly... and verify that indeed this is what’s going on," said Garza.

If you were affected by this I would like to hear from you on my Facebook page, Jalelah Ahmed, Fox 26.

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