Just when society finally figured out they will not receive a new car or lottery winnings after sending someone in Jamaica or Nigeria $1,500, 15 new international scams started bilking Americans out of millions. In fact, wire and mail fraud in countries you would never suspect were capable of committing such evil are leading this new wave of pay-me-or-else fraud.
The Justice Department concluded their recent roundup, which netted 21 arrests in California and seven additional states, and many of those arrested contracted the services of India-based call centers to perpetrate their crimes. An additional three dozen indictments were handed down in Ahmedabad, although that barely dented the expansive fraud network quickly multiplying across India.
International fraud is only effective when data lists are up-to-date. With the recent Equifax data breach that victimized 148 million Americans and counting, it is safe to assume someone’s data list got refreshed, then got sold several hundred times over.
Innocent People Suffer
While Homeland Security and similar law enforcement watchdogs are getting better at nailing international fraudsters, it does not come without an innocent person or two being set up by these fraud rings, many without their knowledge.
Phone number spoofing is one method overseas fraudsters use to maintain anonymity. Using cloud dialers and VoIP services, anyone with an email address and burner phone can own an American number. Even if that U.S. issued number is already issued to another person. With today’s technological advancements and evolving communication, people in India can phone an individual in California and make it look like the call originating from a friend’s cell phone.
Email addresses and Facebook profiles are another easy target that could implicate an innocent person without prior knowledge. If you have gotten scam messages from friends or emails that seem too authentic to be real, you will understand how sophisticated wire and mail fraud have gotten.
Perhaps the easiest way to put an innocent person unwittingly in harm’s path is the infamous cashier’s check scam. Individuals are sent real checks that look authentic, often from an elderly person’s account. After depositing and withdrawing funds to send back overseas, you will receive an unwelcome phone call from your bank, saying the check was fraudulent. It is too late at this point; clean funds have been wired overseas, and you are stuck either making the bank whole, or facing fraud on financial institution charges.
Prevention Through Education
International fraud quickly adjusts to new laws and stricter data security. It is probably not going away anytime soon, but that does not mean individuals are obligated to play along.
As you have heard before, if it is too good to be true, run. You did not win the lottery, a barrister did not leave you $500 million locked inside a Nigerian bank, the IRS is not going to arrest you for being $200 in arrears, and you do not owe for payday loans you did not take out.
Finally, if you have been wrongly implicated in any wire or mail fraud scheme, it is important to keep any evidence safe. Email communications, even if the source deleted their account, are helpful pieces of evidence that may exonerate you, and bust the international fraudster who pulled you into their ring.
Wire and mail fraud charges are serious. There are no mandatory minimum sentences, but even a single count could net you 30 years in prison. James E. Blatt will work tirelessly to get unwarranted charges dismissed, but you must phone his office immediately if you are under investigation or have been recently indicted.