HOUSTON - Three Fort Bend County men accused of playing a role in an international phone scam made their first appearance in federal court Friday.
According to the Department of Justice, more than 60 people were indicted in the crime ring in India and the United States.
Among those arrested were Sunny Joshi, Rajesh Bhatt and Nilesh Pandya who live in Sugar Land and Stafford.
Investigators say suspects who worked in call centers in India were allegedly responsible for contacting victims in the United States. They reportedly targeted immigrants and seniors.
They demanded money in the form of prepaid cards, and threatened to arrest or deport victims if they didn’t comply, according to federal authorities.
Court documents say accomplices in the United States were responsible for collecting payments then laundering the money.
The crime ring reportedly stole $250 million from 15,000 victims over the course of four years.
Joshi, Bhatt, and Pandya are charged with impersonating an officer, identify theft, wire fraud and money laundering.
A federal judge ordered the men to be held without bond until a detention hearing.
If convicted, prosecutors say the suspects could spend 45 years in prison.
Their next court date was set for Tuesday, Nov. 1.
(© 2017 KHOU)