An Indian-American couple has pleaded guilty to laundering over $500,000 on behalf of India-based phone scammers, the US Department of Justice has said.
US Attorney Byung J “BJay” Pak said while posing as federal agents or tech support, the call centres instructed victims to mail packages of cash that Mehulkumar Manubhai Patel, 36, and Chaitali Dave, 36, of South Carolina retrieved using fake identifications.
“This case exists as an example of our commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who facilitate foreign-based scams. Dave and Patel helped criminal India-based call centers prey on and steal from vulnerable members of our community,” Pak said.
Patel and Dave pleaded guilty before US District Judge Amy Totenberg on September 1, and on October 6 respectively. India-based call centres defraud US residents, including the elderly, by misleading victims over the telephone utilising scams such as Social Security and tech support scams, he alleged.
As part of their Social Security scam, India-based callers pose as federal agents in order to mislead victims into believing their Social Security numbers were involved in crimes. Callers threatened arrest and the loss of the victims’ assets if the victims did not send money. The callers directed victims to mail cash to aliases used by other members of the fraud network, including Patel and Dave, the Department of Justice said.
As part of the tech support scam, callers allegedly induced victims to send money in exchange for supposed technical support for their computers. The callers then provided nothing in return. At times, callers misled the victims into providing remote access to their computers and the callers would access the victims’ bank accounts, it said.
The callers routinely misled the victims by making it appear as though the caller added money to the victims’ bank accounts. The callers then instructed the victims to mail cash to aliases used by other members of the fraud network, including Patel and Dave, it said.
Based on misrepresentations made during the calls, the victims, including Georgia residents, mailed money to a network of individuals that laundered funds on behalf of the overseas fraud network. Between May 2019 and January 2020, Patel and Dave laundered over $500,000 sent by dozens of scam victims, it said.