"Patel played a prominent role in this massive, India-based fraud"
At the Southern District of Texas on January 9, 2020, an Indian man pleaded guilty for his role in a multi-million dollar call centre fraud that targeted Americans.
It was heard that 43-year-old Hitesh Madhubhai Patel played a prominent role in operating and funding the India-based call centres.
Callers and US-based conspirators defrauded Americans between 2013 and 2016.
Patel, of Ahmedabad, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and general conspiracy to commit identification fraud, access device fraud, money laundering, and impersonation of a federal officer or employee.
Patel was prosecuted in American following his extradition from Singapore in April 2019 to face charges in the telefraud and money laundering case.
At the request of the USA, Singapore authorities apprehended the Indian man, pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant in September 2018, after he flew there from India.
Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said:
“Hitesh Patel played a prominent role in this massive, India-based fraud scheme that bilked vulnerable Americans out of millions of dollars.
“This important resolution would not have occurred without the assistance of our Singaporean colleagues, to whom we extend our deep appreciation.”
It was heard that Patel and his co-conspirators ran a complex scheme where employees from call centres in Ahmedabad, pretended to be IRS and US Citizenship and Immigration Services officials.
They engaged in other telephone call scams designed to con US-based victims.
Victims were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay the supposed money owed.
The scammers instructed victims to provide payment by purchasing general purpose reloadable (GPR) cards or wiring money.
When the payment was received, the call centres would turn to a network of US-based “runners” to liquidate and launder the fraudulently obtained money.
Patel spoke with his co-defendants through email and WhatsApp.
He also received monthly income and expense reports to his personal email from the call centres. Additionally, he used his Indian mobile number to access GPR cards through automated telephone systems on several occasions.
One co-defendant described Patel as “the top person in India and the boss for whom most of the other defendants worked” and the owner of multiple call centres.
Based on the evidence against him, less than $65 million was attributable to Patel but he admitted to a reasonably foreseeable loss of over $25 million.
He is set to be sentenced on April 3, 2020. Patel faces up to 20 years in jail for wire fraud and five years for general conspiracy, both carry a possible fine of up to $250,000.