An Arizona man and an Illinois woman pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges Friday for participating in liquidating and laundering victim payments generated via a massive telephone impersonation fraud and money laundering scheme perpetrated by India-based call centers.
Bhavesh Patel, 47, of Gilbert, Arizona, pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy, and Asmitaben Patel, 34, of Willowbrook, Illinois, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering offenses.
Bhavesh Patel and Asmitaben Patel admitted that they and their co-conspirators participated in a complex scheme in which individuals from call centers in Ahmedabad, India, impersonated officials from the IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and perpetrated other telephone call scams, in order to defraud victims throughout the U.S.
Call center operators targeted U.S. victims, threatening them with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay alleged monies owed to the government. Those who agreed to pay were instructed to remit funds to the scammers via the purchase of stored value cards or by wiring funds. Upon receipt of payment, the call centers would employ a network of “runners” based in the U.S. to liquidate and launder the money.
Bhavesh Patel’s guilty plea revealed that he managed a crew of such runners beginning in January 2014. Patel and his crew laundered the fraudulently-obtained funds in return for percentage-based commissions from his India-based co-defendants. Patel also admitted to receiving and utilizing fake identification documents to perpetrate the scheme, and providing them to his crew.
Asmitaben Patel admitted to being a runner in the operation beginning in January 2013. Patel worked for a co-defendant, facilitating the laundering of victim funds to pay a lead generating business for leads it provided that were used to perpetrate the scam.
To date, 56 individuals and five India-based call centers have been charged for their roles in perpetrating the fraud and money laundering scheme. A total of 11 have pleaded guilty in the case.
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