IRS phone scam 'kingpin' arrested in India

An ABC 7 I-Team Investigation
In a follow up to a story the I-Team has been following for years, an accused ringleader of one of the most popular scams was arrested in India this week.

It's the latest in a development to an I-Team warning about those fake IRS calls, which have taken Americans for millions.

The I-Team has been uncovering recordings of those threatening calls and even confronting some callers on the phone for years.

Friday night, a man described as the "kingpin" of an operation was sitting in jail.

An India television news broadcast this week captured a man in a black hood, 24-year-old Sagar Thakkar, accused of being a mastermind behind a widespread IRS phone scam where fake agents bully people into wiring money for so-called back taxes.

He's charged with extortion, wire fraud and cheating by impersonation.

Thakkar, also known as "Shaggy," was also one of 61 defendants mentioned in a separate U.S. Indictment in October. Some of those suspects were right here in the Chicago area.

"This is the first time we've done this in a coordinated way and the message is, we are now taking action against these kinds of groups in the U.S., including many of the defendants in this case in India," said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell from the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

As for Shaggy's arrest in India, the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Russell George told the I-Team: "We are grateful to the Indian authorities for taking this individual into custody."

Authorities said the so-called kingpin could bring in as much as $150 thousand a day from call centers, tricking thousands of Americans.

The IRS told the I-Team that more than $50 million has been lost to the scam since 2013.

This Schaumburg woman was threatened arrest and lost $10 thousand dollars.

And this Orland Park woman fought back by recording her calls.

Fake IRS call:

"By tomorrow morning one of the revenue officer and the deputy sheriff will be coming to your place."

"The guy tells me I'm tax deficient, I'm going to jail"

The I-Team also called fake IRS agents when they tried to shake down Susan Herweck, of Chicago Heights.

Jason: "Are you from the IRS?"
Caller: "Yes, how are you?"
Jason: "We know you are not form the IRS."
Caller: " can't do anything, can you?"
Jason: "Can I do anything to you, no. But why are you calling this woman and asking her for money when you are not from the IRS?"

The IRS said that this week's arrest does not bring an end to the problem. Scammers are continuing to prey on people with false stories of back taxes due.

If you think you may owe taxes, never pay them by wiring money or sending a gift card. The IRS will always send you an official government letter if you owe money.
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