Four Men Plead Guilty in Call Center Scam in US
Four men of Indian origin have pleaded guilty to charges of being involved in a multi-million dollar fraud in the United States in collusion with call centers based in India. The four men are Nisarg Patel, 26, of New Jersey, Dilip Kumar Ramanlal Patel, 30, of Florida, Rajesh Kumar, 39, of Arizona, and Dipak Kumar Sankalchand Patel, 38, of Pennsylvania.
All of them pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering offences. While Nisarg, Dilip and Rajesh were arrested in October 2016 and have been in federal custody since then, Dipak has been in federal custody after he was arrested in May this year. They are awaiting sentencing.
The case, heard before US district judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas, pertains to a massive call center scam, in which numerous American people were duped. In all 56 people and five India-based call centers have been charged for their involvement in the money laundering scheme, in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Texas in October last year.
The accused ran a complex operation, in which people from from call centers located in Ahmedabad posed as officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and called US residents, accusing them of owing money to the US government and threatening them with imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay up. They used information obtained from data brokers to their advantage in the scheme.
They then instructed the vulnerable people to make the payment through stored value cards or wire transfer. Once the payment was made, the call centers contacted their acquaintances in the US to liquidate and launder the sum.
Nisarg and Dilip admitted that they had acted as runners in the scheme, and coordinated with their India-based partners in crime through email and social media platforms. Dilip also admitted that he used forged identification documents to receive wire transfers of money from the victims.
Four Indians and one Pakistani had earlier pleaded guilty in the case in June this year.