The Justice Department yesterday announced that a man from Arizona and a woman from Illinois have Pleaded Guilty to operating an indian-based call center where telephone impersonations against U.S victims and money laundering schemes occured. The pleas by the two were entered before a U.S. District Court Judge of the Southern District of Texas. Eleven people have pleaded guilty in this case so far. They were all part of a scam that operated five Indian-based call centers that targeted U.S victims.

How the two committed the crimes

According to their pleas, Bhavesh Patel, Asmitaben Patel, and others were part of a scheme in which call centers located in Ahmedabad, India impersonated IRS, U.S citizenship and U.S immigration officials.

The Call Center was set up for the purpose of defrauding U.S victims. Operators of the call center obtained information of individuals living in the U.S who owed the government money from data brokers and other sources. They would later call them and threaten them with arrest, fines, imprisonment or deportation if they did not pay the money they owed the U.S government.

Victims were instructed on how to provide payment such as purchasing stored value cards or by wiring money. The fraudsters immediately turned to “scam money runners” based in the U.S. to liquidate their scam proceeds and launder the fraudulently obtained funds.

Bhavesh Patel’s guilty plea

Bhavesh Patel told the court that he managed the activities of runners based in the south and central Arizona and ordered them to liquidate victims funds.

He also received some instructions on how to move the funds from his co-conspirators. The perpetrators also used reloaded cards that contained funds derived from victims to buy money orders and then made deposits into various bank accounts. Bhavesh informed the court that he received commissions from procedes of the scam. He also received and used fake identification documents such as victim's driver's licenses to acquire scam proceeds through wire transfers.

Asmitaben Patel’s guilty plea

Asmitaben acted as a runner for Bhavesh by liquidating funds acquired from victims. Asmitaben worked under the direction of Bhavesh in and around the Chicago area. She used value cards loaded with illegally obtained funds to buy money orders. She then made deposits to various bank accounts.

In the first quarter of last year, over 1,029,601 Americans were called by fraudsters impersonating as government officials.

The fraudsters managed to steal $29,100,604 from their victims.