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Call centre scam: 2 Indian-Americans plead guilty in US court

LiveMint logoLiveMint 08-07-2017 PTI

Washington: Two Indian-Americans on Friday pleaded guilty to the charges of their involvement in a massive telephone impersonation fraud and money laundering scheme in the US perpetrated by India-based call centres.

Bhavesh Patel, 47, from Arizona and Asmitaben Patel, 34, from Illinois pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering offences, the Department of Justice said. Sentencing dates are pending.

A total of eleven defendants have pleaded guilty thus far in this case. Co-defendants Bharatkumar Patel, Ashvinbhai Chaudhari, Harsh Patel, Nilam Parikh, Hardik Patel, Rajubhai Patel, Viraj Patel, Dilipkumar A Patel and Fahad Ali previously pleaded guilty on various dates between April and June.

According to admissions made in connection with their respective pleas, Bhavesh, Asmitaben and their co-conspirators perpetrated a complex scheme in which individuals from call centres located in Ahmedabad, impersonated officials from the Internal Revenue Service (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 US.

Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, call centre operators targeted US victims who were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay alleged monies owed to the government.

Victims who agreed to pay the scammers were instructed how to provide payment, including by purchasing stored value cards or wiring money. Upon payment, the call centres would immediately turn to a network of “runners” based in the US to liquidate and launder the fraudulently-obtained funds, federal investigators alleged.

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