TAMPA, (WFLA) Two Florida men were among 21 sentenced in one of the largest phone scam busts in U.S. history.
The Department of Justice says the multi-million-dollar India-based operation targeted elderly and vulnerable citizens.
Dilipkumar R. Patel, 39, of Ocala, was sentenced to serve 52 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy.
Praful Patel, 50, of Fort Myers, was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of conspiracy.
The scammers allegedly called victims and posed as representatives from the Internal Revenue Service or immigration officials. They threatened arrest or deportation if victims did not fork over money. Payment for "debts" was requested in the form of prepaid cards or wire transfers.
This particular scam was active from 2012 to 2016 but variations of the scam are still going strong. IRS phone scams are one of top complaints received by 8 On Your Side's Better Call Behnken.
Historically, the scammers are difficult to catch because they are often overseas and not easy to find. These 21 people could be in prison for up to 20 years.
According to the DOJ, the proceeds from the scam was routed through call centers in India back to ringleaders in eight states, including Florida.