Another person has pleaded guilty to playing a role in a scam run out of an Indian call-centre involving extortion of money from Americans and laundering the proceeds, according to the US justice department.
Nilam Parikh, a 46-year-old resident of Alabama state, pleaded guilty on Thursday in a federal district court in Texas to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, becoming the fourth in this particular case, allegedly run out of a call centre in Ahmedabad, India.
The other three who pleaded guilty are Bharatkumar Patel, Ashvinbhai Chaudhari and Harsh Patel.
The justice department said in a statement Parikh and 55 other individuals and five India-based call centres have been “charged for their roles in the fraud and money laundering scheme” in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Texas on October 19, 2016.
The suspects are charged with calling Americans posing as officers of the Internal Revenue Service — the US income tax department — and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and demand made-up unpaid dues.
They would threaten their victims — whose identities were obtained from “data brokers” — with arrest, imprisonment, fines and deportation for failure to pay. They would be told to pay through “stored value cards” or wire the amount. “Runners” such as Pariksh were tasked with collecting the money, laundering it and sending it to the call centre, using reloadable cards registered to genuine but stolen identities.
“Parikh admitted that she liquidated the proceeds on the cards and transferred the funds into money orders for deposit into various bank accounts, while keeping part of the victim funds for herself as payment,” the justice department said, adding she also “admitted to sending and receiving scam proceeds to and from her co-conspirators via Federal Express”.
Her sentencing is scheduled for August 11.