Security

Indian Call Scammer Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

By Bill Toulas / December 1, 2020

In an ocean of call scammers who are attempting to trick non-tech-savvy users, some get caught. An Indian national named Hitesh Madhubhai Patel (44) has just received an imprisonment sentence of twenty years, followed by three years of supervised release. The court that handed over the sentence is the U.S. District of Texas court, which judged evidence that goes back between 2013 and 2016.

During that time, H. M. Patel defrauded thousands, making tens of millions of dollars. For this reason, Patel is also ordered to pay restitution of $8,970,396 to the identified victims of his crimes.

The man was operating from Ahmedabad, India, impersonating IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials. Patel and his co-conspirators targeted people in the United States, mostly vulnerable illegal or even legal immigrants. They pretended to be officials who are willing to help them unofficially if they paid them money. If they refused, they threatened to initiate deportation procedures against them.

Those who were convinced by the crooks sent the money by using general-purpose reloadable cards or by wiring money directly. The money would then be turned to a network of “runners” in the United States that took care of the liquidation. Apart from the U.S., the actors also impersonated the Canada Revenue Agency and the Australian Tax Office. Patel has admitted all of the above and has even provided all script details to the prosecutors in goodwill.

Patel was arrested in Singapore in April 2019, facing telefraud and money laundering accusations. The Asian country acted at the United States’ request, which issued an arrest warrant on the man in September 2018. With the extradition to the US, the scammer finally faced justice, but there are many more connected to the same network. According to the authorities, Patel was working with at least another 60 individuals, 24 of which are based in the United States (liquidation team).

Catching and convicting Patel is a clear example of why high-level scammers cannot and should not feel safe, no matter where they’re based. Sure, if the man hadn’t traveled to Singapore thinking that he could enjoy luxurious holidays using other people’s money, he could still be free. However, the USA and India have an active treaty for the mutual extradition of criminals, so the hand of justice would catch Patel sooner or later.



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