Franchise Scammers Use Greenfield, Glendale as Headquarters for IRS Phone Fraud
You might remember the story from a few months back when international police busted a multi-million dollar telephone scam in India. They were calling people in the United States and claimed to be with the IRS.
But, in theory, that same scam could be run out of anywhere - Even Southeastern Wisconsin.
CBS 58's Jacob Kittilstad found out about two arrests already made by Greenfield Police.
According to court documents, the Greenfield Walmart is where the investigation started.
"A victim from Windom, Minnesota was contacted by fraudsters purporting to be the Internal Revenue Service," according to the criminal complaint.
"They informed her that she owed $4,900.00 to the IRS, but she could send $2,000 via MoneyGram as a down payment," according to the criminal complaint.
The victim sent the money to "Jaxon Jones" - an alias for a man who walked into the Greenfield Walmart, and picked up the paperwork.
Jim Temmer, President of the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin, said this scam strategy is common even outside of tax time.
"Scams work first and foremost because of emotion. If you are emotionally tied to something you're making a quick decision, you're making an emotional decision," Temmer said.
"They use intimidation. They threaten arrest, deportation. They'll say they'll take your driver’s license. And then they ask for an un-traditional form of payment. They don't want a check. They don't want a credit card. They'll ask you for a wire transfer," Temmer said.
But what's surprising in this criminal complaint is that the two people arrested were working primarily out of the Milwaukee metro.
According to court documents the suspects also visited Walmarts in Greendale and Franklin.
Three different aliases connected to the suspects picked up nearly $50,000 in MoneyGram’s before they were arrested.
Manish Patel and Nikita Shulkla were taken into custody after leaving their room at a Motel 6 in Glendale, according to court documents.
They were found with tens of thousands of dollars in cash and 147 fraudulent drivers' licenses with fake names and Patel's photo.
Patel told investigators that he had been doing the fraud for four months in different locations and only got to keep 4% of the money they made, according to court documents.
Temmer suggests that they may have been working like franchise for a larger scammer network.
"I would think that this isn't an isolated case. The lists that they're pulling from and the ways that they're doing business are probably taught to them or provided by somebody else," Temmer said.
Also worth noting - remember how the IRS used to advertise that they would "never" contact you by phone with collection questions.
Well, that's changed recently.
They now do call but are required to send a letter before doing so. If you have not received a letter and someone claiming to be the IRS calls it's an out-and-out scam.