Scam Money Runners

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When you hear about people getting scammed into wiring money, do you ever wonder who’s picking the money up on the other end?

In the case of people scammed by certain call centers in India, the answer was employees of PHLG Enterprises.

Today the FTC announced that PHLG and its owner have agreed to settle FTC charges that they helped collect money people sent in response to the call centers’ scams. Those scams included government grant scams, IRS tax scams, and advance fee loan scams. Telemarketers behind the calls often pretended to be affiliated with government agencies in the U.S. They told people they owed money to the IRS, or that they’d get a free government grant after they paid a fee.

Once India-based telemarketers deceived people into wiring payments, “runners” working for PHLG would promptly pick the money up at Western Union or MoneyGram locations throughout Florida. To avoid getting caught, they used false names, went to multiple stores in different cities on a daily basis to get around transaction limits, and lied to store employees about being friends or relatives of the people who wired money to make sure that they could pick it up.

By the time people realized they’d been scammed, their money was gone, and they had no way to get it back. According to the FTC, PHLG runners picked up more than $1.5 million from around 3,000 people from July 2015 to February 2016 alone.

So, how can you spot an imposter scam in the first place? For one thing, the real federal government will never call and tell you to wire money. Check out these four videos and articles on tech support, grandkid, online romance, and IRS imposter scams. Feel free to share the knowledge with your family and friends — just send them to ftc.gov/imposters.