Four Indians and a Pakistani national pleaded guilty to charges for their role in a massive telephone impersonation fraud and money laundering scheme in the U.S. perpetrated by India-based call centers, the U.S. Department of Justice said, a scheme affecting hundreds of Indian Americans.
Indian nationals Rajubhai Patel, 32; Viraj Patel, 33; Dilipkumar Ambal Patel, 53; and Pakistani Fahad Ali, 25, each pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy before U.S. District Court Judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas. Indian national Hardik Patel, 31, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy before the same court June 2.
Sentencing dates were pending for all five defendants, the Department of Justice said in a June 5 statement. Based on the statements in his June 2 guilty plea, beginning in August 2012, Hardik Patel owned and managed the day-to-day operations of an India-based scam call center before leaving for the U.S.
While in India, he communicated extensively via email, text and other means with various India-based co-defendants to operate the scheme and exchange scripts used in the scheme. He also used to coordinate the processing of payments from scammed victims, obtain and exchange lead lists used by callers to target U.S. victims and exchange spreadsheets containing the personal identifying information of U.S. persons misappropriated by the scammers to register reloadable cards used in the scheme.
Hardik Patel also managed worker payroll and kept detailed records of profits and expenses for various associated scam call centers. He continued to communicate with India-based co-defendants about the scheme and assist with the conspiracy after he moved to the U.S.
According to his June 6 guilty plea, Rajubhai Patel operated as a runner and assisted a co-defendant in managing the activities of a crew of other runners, based primarily out of Illinois, who liquidated victims’ funds in various locales in the U.S. for conspirators from India-based call centers.
Viraj Patel first became involved in the conspiracy between April and September 2013, prior to entering the U.S, when he worked at and assisted with overseeing the operations of a call center in India engaging in scam activity at the behest of a co-defendant.
Dilipkumar A. Patel operated as a runner in and around Southern California, along with other co-defendants based in the region. To date, 56 other individuals and five India-based call centers have been charged for their roles in the fraud and money laundering scheme in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Texas on Oct. 19, 2016.