Busted: Money mule for fake IRS phone scammers in India faces FTC heat

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Busted: Money mule for fake IRS phone scammers in India faces FTC heat
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Finally! A Florida-based man who worked overtime with overseas scammers to get your money is getting what he deserves…

Read more: Warning: There’s a new IRS scam coming to your mailbox

Money mule who profited from IRS phone scam taken to task

Joel S. Treuhaft and his company, PHLG Enterprises LLC, received more than $1.5 million in illegal payments from some 3,000 consumers, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The money was part of a scheme that aided Indian call centers in collecting money from victims of IRS tax scams, government grant scams and advance-fee loan scams, among others.

Treuhaft allegedly managed a group of mules who had the responsibility of picking up Western Union or MoneyGram cash money transfers at retail stores. The money transfers were made by duped American taxpayers intimidated by the phonies in India.

Treuhaft would take his cut, as would the ‘runners’ he used to collect the illegal payments, and then the rest of the money would be forwarded over to Asia in a secretive way to avoid detection.

The FTC is now banning Treuhaft from ‘aiding or facilitating any telemarketing, including the use of money transfers, cash reload mechanisms, gift cards, or other payment methods as payment for goods or services sold via telemarketing.’

Treuhaft was also handed a $1.5 million judgment, but that’s being suspended because of his company’s supposed inability to pay.

Boo hoo!

However, the money will be due in full if PHLG Enterprises is found to have misrepresented its financial condition.

This news follows an October 2016 report that some 70 phone scammers were arrested in India on suspicion of posing as IRS agents and calling U.S. taxpayers to scam them out of money.

Local police say employees at nine call centers were impersonating IRS agents during calls and threatening arrest if you didn’t pay your back taxes.

Maybe you heard personally from one of these callers. They certainly did a brisk business for the past year taking advantage of hard-working Americans; reports say they raked in up to $150,000 a day from unsuspecting taxpayers.

Here’s how the IRS phone scam works

The scammers typically use phone spoofing to make their number come up as ‘IRS.’ They also have the last four digits of your Social Security number, so that lends them an additional air of legitimacy.

Here are some of their tactics and claims to watch out for:

  • They use common names and fake IRS badge numbers.
  • They send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam.
  • They call a second time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.

Typically, you’re told to submit payment either by wire or by prepaid debit card. But don’t fall for it!

Know this: The IRS will not contact you by phone asking for money. They only contact you by snail mail if they want to get in touch with you. So if you get one of these calls, hang up the phone!

New app alerts you when a scammer is calling

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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