Four more Indians plead guilty in US call-centre scam
The scheme involved individuals from call centres in India calling Americans posing as officers of the internal revenue service and the citizenship and immigration services and demand fictional unpaid dues.world Updated: Jun 06, 2017 21:58 IST
Four more Indians and a Pakistani-origin American have pleaded guilty in past two weeks to charges of involvement in a massive “telephone impersonation fraud” and money laundering scheme run from call centres in Ahmedabad, the US department of justice said on Monday.
Hardik Patel, Rajubhai Patel, Viraj Patel Dilipkumar A Patel were the four Indians and Fahad Ali was the Pakistan-descent man, taking the total number of those who have pleaded guilty in this case to nine, the department said, adding that in all 55 individuals and 5 India-based call centres have been charged.
They are accused of involvement in a complex scheme in which individuals from call centres in India called Americans in the US posing as officers of the internal revenue service (the US income tax department) and the US citizenship and immigration services and demand fictional unpaid dues.
They would threaten their victims — whose identities were obtained from “data brokers” — with arrest, imprisonment, fines and deportation for failure to pay. Some paid just to avoid trouble.
They would be told to pay through “stored value cards” or wire it. “Runners” such as Rajubhai Patel, Viraj Patel, Dilipkumar A Patel and Ali were tasked with collecting the money, laundering it and sending it to the call-centre using reloadable cards registered to genuine but stolen identities.
The justice department said Hardik Patel had owned a call centre in India and managed its daily operations before leaving for the United States.
“While in India in his capacity as a manager, Hardik Patel communicated extensively via email, text, and other means with various India-based co-defendants to operate the scheme and exchange scripts used in the scheme, coordinate the processing of payments from scammed victims, obtain and exchange lead lists used by callers to target US victims, and exchange spreadsheets containing the personal identifying information (PII) of US persons misappropriated by the scammers to register reloadable cards used in the scheme.”
He had also managed “worker payroll and kept detailed records of profits and expenses for various associated scam call centres”.
The justice department statement added that after arriving in the US, Hardik Patel “continued to communicate with India-based co-defendants about the scheme and assist with the conspiracy”.