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Indian American Miteshkumar Patel pleads guilty in Ahmedabad, India,-based call center scam targeting US residents

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Miteshkumar Patel and his accomplices impersonated officials from the IRS and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to threaten people of imprisonment if they did not pay them money. 

Credit: US Department of Justice.

Indian American Miteshkumar Patel on Monday pleaded guilty to money conspiracy charges in the multimillion dollar India-based call center scam targeting victims from the United States.

Patel, 42, who was based in Willowbrook, Illinois, joined six other defendants who recently pleaded guilty to the same charges for their roles in liquidating and laundering victim payments generated through a massive telephone impersonation fraud and money laundering scheme, the Justice Department said in a statement. Patel became the last defendant who pleaded guilty in this case.

The other six defendants are Sunny Joshi, 47, of Sugar Land, Texas; Jagdishkumar Chaudhari, 39, of Montgomery, Alabama; Rajesh Bhatt, 53, of Sugar Land; Raman Patel, 82, of Gilbert, Arizona; Praful Patel, 50, of Fort Myers, Florida and Jerry Norris, 47, of Oakland, California. Miteshkumar Patel and the first three were pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy, while the other three pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering offenses.

The pleas were entered before US District Court Judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas between September 22 and November 6, except for Raman Patel’s plea, which was entered before US District Court Judge Michelle Burns in the District of Arizona on November 6. All six men are in the federal custody since their arrests in October 2016 and will remain detained until their pending sentencing dates.

Miteshkumar Patel, along with his co-conspirators, perpetrated a complex scheme in which individuals from call centers located in Ahmedabad, impersonated officials from the IRS and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and engaged in other telephone call scams, in a ruse designed to defraud victims located throughout the United States.

The fraudsters used the information that they received from data brokers, and other sources and threatened targeted US victims of arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay alleged amounts owed to the government. They instructed the victims how to provide payment, including by purchasing general purpose reloadable cards or wiring money. Upon payment, the call centers would immediately turn to a network of ‘runners’ based in the United States to liquidate and launder the fraudulently obtained funds.

A total of 61 persons charged in this case and all the 24 defendants in the United States have pleaded guilty.

Miteshkumar Patel admitted to using a gas station he owned in Racine, Wisconsin to liquidate victim funds, and possessing and using equipment at his Illinois apartment to make fraudulent identification documents used by co-defendant runners in his crew to receive wire transfers directly from scam victims and make bank deposits in furtherance of the conspiracy.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 7.