U.S. authorities have sentenced 24 defendants in an India-based call center scheme aimed at scamming victims in America.
Twenty-one members of the fraud and money laundering conspiracy were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison on July 20.
Officials said Miteshkumar Patel, 42, of Illinois, was sentenced to serve 240 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Patel’s guilty plea indicated that he served as the manager of a Chicago-based crew that laundered the fraud proceeds generated by call centers in India.
The callers used information obtained from data brokers and other sources to target American victims, impersonating U.S. government employees from the IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The callers made the victims believe they owed money to the government and, if they didn’t pay, they would be arrested or deported.
Victims were directed to pay in different ways, including purchasing stored value cards or wiring money. Once the victim paid, a group of runners in the United States would liquidate and launder the funds as quickly as possible.
Hardik Patel, 31, also of Illinois, was sentenced to 188 months in prison and will be deported to India after the serving his sentence. His guilty plea stated that he was co-owner and manager of one of the India-based call centers involved in the conspiracy.
Nineteen other people, all based in the United States, were sentenced to prison terms. The judge in the case either recommended or ordered deportation to India for some of the criminals in the case.
“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 Jeff Sessions in a statement.
“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.”
Three people were sentenced earlier this year as part of the conspiracy, which took place between 2012 and 2016, and the defendants were jointly held liable for restitution of $8.9 million to the identified victims of the crimes. The court seized assets and money from the conspirators totaling $72.9 million.