Two Indian-Americans today 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 offenses, the Department of Justice said. Sentencing dates are pending.
A total of eleven defendants has 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 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 US.
Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, call center 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 centers would immediately turn to a network of “runners” based in the US to liquidate and launder the fraudulently obtained funds, federal investigators alleged.