Indian scammers have defrauded thousands of US citizens an estimated $1.7 million. The scammer accepted payments through Bitcoin.

Hailing from India’s Madhya Pradesh state, the scammers worked from various call centers. Reports suggest that around 78 members were involved, doing their dirty work from three call centers.

100,000 US citizens scammed

The scam began after the criminals managed to gain access to the social security numbers of around 100,000 U.S. citizens. They also acquired their cell phone numbers and other sensitive personal information which they used to carry out the attacks.

Equipment with the information, they called the owners of the cell phone numbers. Using fake American accents, the scammers claimed to be Social Security Administration employees informing the victims that their social security numbers were under threat and being used for nefarious activities like drug trafficking and fraud.

Claiming to be helping them with this issue, the scammers would then ask for a payment to fix the matter. The scammers would ask for payments of between $50 and $5,000 through Bitcoin or other payment options. If they failed to comply, they were threatened with legal action, arrests or the blocking of their social security number.

Jitendra Singh, the Superintendent of Police in India, explained the scam further, stating:

“The tele callers, in chaste US accent, would tell them that for settling the issue they have to pay a certain amount otherwise their social security number will be blocked and legal action initiated against them. This way, they used to terrorize American citizens and make them pay amounts ranging from USD 50 to 5,000 through gift cards, Bitcoin and other online modes.”

18-year olds involved, 70 phones, 60 computers

The call centers were eventually raided with 70 cell phones, 60 computers, a server, and other devices confiscated as evidence. The gang were arrested and are currently awaiting a trial. The ages of the gang were between 18-20 years. It is unclear if the funds had been found or returned to the victims.

Social security scams are reportedly on the rise. Thousands of these types of scams have been reported in the US since January 2018, with approximately 1890 people, around 3 percent of those that were called by the scammers, losing their money.