Akash Satish Patel, 32, and Nikita Natvarlal Patel, 25, two Indian Americans from Middlesex County in New jersey were arrested and charged with bilking over $150,000 from at least 70 people in 32 states, by falsely claiming that they owed back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service and would be arrested if they did not pay up immediately, authorities said on September 15.
The two were arrested in Union as they arrived at a CVS store to claim the proceeds of a MoneyGram sent to them by one of their victims, according to a northjersey.com report.
Police said the two, who are Indian citizens, were not related although they have the same last name and they both reside at the same address in Iselin, in Middlesex County. Nikita Patel is in the United States on an expired visa.
Both Patels were arrested on September 4th after an investigation that started two days earlier when Detective Michael Jennings received a call from a man in Lexington, Ky., who reported that he had been the victim of an IRS scam. The man told Jennings he had been told in a phone call that he owed $1,400 to the IRS, and that he would be arrested if he did not pay. He was asked to send the money to a MoneyGram account in the name of Vincent Arora at a CVS store on Broad Avenue in Leonia.
Jennings was able to obtain a security camera video recording of a man making the pickup of the wired money at the CVS, and created still shots to put out a statewide bulletin. The next day, the detective contacted MoneyGram and learned that a man identified as Vincent Arora, an alias for Patel, had made about 30 transactions in the previous week at MoneyGram locations across the state. A few days later when “Arora” was about to cash in a MoneyGram at a CVS store in Elizabeth, stopped their car with both Patels inside and were arrested. Police subsequently seized $10,822 from their apartment. The two used to obtain information about the victims from people working in call centers in India.
The Patels were each held on $150,000 bail at the Bergen County Jail, charged with conspiracy to commit theft by deception, a second-degree crime. Leonia Police Chief Thomas P. Rowe said that so far about $150,000 has been seized from six bank accounts in the names of the suspects. He said many victims will be able to recover the money they lost. “In some cases, the victims lost their life savings. Rowe said he did not yet know the total amount of money the Patels were able to talk their victims into sending them, but “we do know it is more than we seized,” according to the northjersey.com report.