The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that 21 members of a massive India-based fraud and money laundering conspiracy that defrauded thousands of U.S. residents of hundreds of millions of dollars were sentenced this week to terms of imprisonment up to 20 years. Three other conspirators were sentenced earlier this year for laundering proceeds for the conspiracy, which was operated out of India-based call centers that targeted U.S. residents in various telephone fraud schemes.
"The stiff sentences imposed this week represent the culmination of the first-ever large scale, multi-jurisdiction prosecution targeting the India call center scam industry," said Attorney General Sessions. "This case represents one of the most significant victories to date in our continuing efforts to combat elder fraud and the victimization of the most vulnerable members of the U.S. public. The transnational criminal ring of fraudsters and money launderers who conspired to bilk older Americans, legal immigrants and many others out of their life savings through their lies, threats and financial schemes must recognize that all resources at the Department's disposal will be deployed to shut down these telefraud schemes, put those responsible in jail, and bring a measure of justice to the victims."
Taxpayers must remain wary of unsolicited telephone calls from individuals claiming to be IRS employees. If any taxpayer believes they or someone they know is a victim of an IRS impersonation scam, they should report it to TIGTA at www.tigta.gov or by calling 1-800-366-4484.
Miteshkumar Patel, 42, of Illinois, was sentenced to serve 240 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on the charge of money laundering conspiracy. According to the factual basis of his plea agreement, Patel served as the manager of a Chicago-based crew of "runners" that liquidated and laundered fraud proceeds generated by callers at India-based call centers. Those callers used call scripts and lead lists to target victims throughout the United States with telefraud schemes in which the callers impersonated U.S. government employees from the IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The callers duped victims into believing that they owed money to the U.S. government and would be arrested or deported if they did not pay immediately. After the victims transferred money to the callers, a network of U.S.-based runners moved expeditiously to liquidate and launder fraud proceeds through the use of anonymous stored value cards. In addition to recruiting, training, and tasking runners in his crew, Patel also coordinated directly with the Indian side of the conspiracy about the operation of the scheme. Patel was held accountable for laundering between $9.5 and $25 million for the scheme.
References- www.justice.gov (July 20, 2018)