More than half a dozen college-age “money mules,” all recruited from the same campus in eastern India, were sent to the U.S. to collect proceeds from a robocall scam that swindles more than $150 million from Americans annually, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports based on federal prosecutors’ allegations. While some details of the alleged global ring have come out gradually in recent months, the role of international college students appears to be new.
Two Pennsylvania State University students, aged 22 and 23, allegedly moved more than $618,000 swindled from 19 U.S. victims between January and May alone. At least a half-dozen others linked to the International Institute of Hotel Management in Kolkata have been arrested since January in New Jersey, Texas, and Colorado on similar charges. Each arrived in the U.S. ostensibly as part of a work-study program giving foreign students an opportunity to be interns at topflight American resorts. Americans lost more than $128 million to “government impostor frauds” in 2019 alone, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The Justice Department has attempted to crack down, filing lawsuits in January against two American telecom carriers responsible for routing the robocalls into the U.S. phone network and extraditing from Singapore the head of a network of Indian call centers to face charges in a first-of-its-kind case.