Indian national Hitesh Madhubhai Patel has pleaded guilty for his role in operating and funding a network of India-based call centers through which local callers and US conspirators scammed US victims out of millions from 2013 to 2016, the Department of Justice reported this week.
Patel was extradited to the United States from Singapore in April 2019 to face charges for this crime. The indictment, unsealed in October 2016, charged Patel and 60 other individuals and entities with general conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy.
According to admissions made in his plea, Patel and co-conspirators developed a scheme in which employees of call centers in Ahmedabad, India, impersonated officials from the IRS and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They threatened to arrest, imprison, fine, or deport victims if they didn’t pay alleged fees owed to the government. Victims who fell for the scam were told how to pay, usually via general-purpose reloadable cards or wiring money.
Patel admitted to operating and funding several of these call centers, including the HGLOBAL call center. He communicated with co-conspirators via email and WhatsApp to exchange credit card numbers, telephone scam scripts, deposit slips, payment data, call center operations information and instructions, and bank account details. Scripts included impersonation of the IRS, USCIS, Canada Revenue Agency, and Australian Tax Office officials, as well as payday loan fraud, US government grant fraud, and debt collection fraud.
This week, Patel 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. At the time of his April 3 sentencing, Patel faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud conspiracy and five years for general conspiracy. Both counts bring the possibility of a fine up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from his offense.
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