Two charged with $70,000 scam | #coronavirus | #scams | #covid19

UNION COUNTY — Two men were arrested Tuesday (June 30) as they allegedly attempted to scam a Union County resident they’d allegedly already scammed out of $70,000 out of even more money.

In a statement released this morning (Thursday) Maj. Scott Coffer of the Union County Sheriff’s Office announced that Jeel Nileshkumar Patel, 19, 15 Fortis Way, Mauldin, and Harssh Kumar Patel, 20, 123 Walkers Bluff Road, Boiling Springs, are each charged by the Sheriff’s Office with Criminal Conspiracy and Obtaining Money Under False Pretense Over $10,000. Jeel Patel is also charged with No SC Drivers License.

The press release states that on Monday, June 29, deputies responded to a residence in the Jonesville area in reference to a scam. It states the victim told Deputies that she was contacted on Tuesday, June 23, Wednesday, June 24, and Thursday, June 25 by someone stating that her money would be safer with them instead of the bank. The press release states the victim went to the bank and withdrew the money. It states the victim said she sent the money twice through FedEx and the last time they picked it up in person at her mailbox.

The press release states that on Tuesday, June 30, Investigators had the victim call back and set up an arrangement to “protect” some more of her money. It states investigators set up surveillance on the victim’s residence.

The press release states that at approximately 4 p.m. a Honda pulled up at the mailbox and the passenger got out and retrieved the package from the victim. It states that at that time Investigators performed a traffic stop on the Honda and that both men in the vehicle were arrested without incident.

During a search of the vehicle the press release states several items were collected as evidence.

As a result of the investigation, the press release states it was learned the victim had been scammed out of $70,000.

Coffer, the press release states, has reached out to Homeland Security and the Secret Service in regards to this case which is still under investigation.

The press release states that the Union County Sheriff’s Office is reminding citizens to keep a check on your elderly relatives as well as neighbors. It states that there has been a spike in these type of scams and that that they now include scamming people through bogus COVID-19 tests.

“We cannot stress enough the importance to be on alert for these type of calls,” the press release states.

The narrative of the investigation that accompanied the press release states that, when they responded to a report of a scam on June 29, Deputies were told by the victim that she had spoke to a female on the phone who had told her to watch her money. The victim said she was contacted by a male who identified himself as Curt Harris and that he asked her about keeping her money safe and asked how much she had. She said the man asked her to withdraw her money and send it to him.

The victim said the man stayed on the phone with her the whole time while she took the money out of the bank and prepared it to be shipped by FedEx to the address she was given. She said she withdrew money from two banks twice and another bank once. The victim said she mailed two packages through FedEx as the man asked and one was picked up at her mailbox. She said the man told her to put the package by the mailbox and someone would pick it up. The victim said she saw a young white male get out of a vehicle and then get back in with the package.

Deputies collected the withdrawal slips and the FedEx receipts and the narrative stated the case would be forwarded to Investigations.

A supporting narrative by Coffer states that on June 30 he was notified by Investigator Ruby that the suspects had called the victim and were en route to pick up the money at the mailbox. Investigators set up surveillance on the residence and waited. A short time later a gray Honda with the license plate number NII 798 pulled up to the mailbox where the victim was standing and the passenger got out and approached the victim to get the box from her.

Investigators then conducted a traffic stop on the Honda and the passenger was detained by Investigator Vinson and Coffer had the driver exit the vehicle and detained him. Coffer then escorted the driver (Jeel Patel) to the rear of his patrol vehicle and advised him of his Miranda Rights. Jeel Patel said that he understood them and requested an attorney and at that time he was transported to the Union County Jail.

Vinson spoke with the passenger (Harssh Patel) who said he knew they were coming to pick up the money but that was all and he was then transported to the Jail by Deputy Taylor.

Jeel Patel and Harssh Patel were still being held in the Union County Jail as of this afternoon.

In a telephone interview with The Union Times, Sheriff David Taylor said that he is going to request that both suspects be denied bond and remain in jail due to flight risk and the safety of the community.

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