TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A 28-year-old Tampa man was sentenced to federal prison for his connection to an India-based group who fraudulently posed as Social Security Administration officials, FBI agents, and IRS officers.

On Aug. 31, 2022, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said 28-year-old William Perez, of Tampa, pleaded guilty for his connection to the India-based group.

Authorities said the group threatened victims, mostly elderly adults, with imminent arrest based on alleged drug trafficking or money laundering crimes supposedly committed under the victims’ identities.

Authorities said the group would provide victims with “official” titles and “badge numbers” to further perpetuate their crimes. The group would then tell the victims they could avoid all consequences by mailing checks or cash equivalents to conspirators, such as Perez, in the U.S.

Perez would then receive the payments, typically via mailed packages, and forward them to the India-based group which paid him in return.

Court documents say Perez laundered money for the group between April 2018, through August 2018.

“Millions of Americans, to include the most vulnerable of the population, have fallen victim to IRS impersonation scheme telephone calls which ultimately led to the loss of their life savings,” said Ronald A. Loecker IRS-CI Acting Special Agent in Charge. “Today’s sentence again demonstrates our persistent resolve to hold fraudsters accountable for taking advantage of both the system and the elderly with the hope justice has been served”.

Perez was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. As part of his sentence, the court ordered the forfeiture of $245,980, the proceeds of the crime.