An Indian national has been extradited to the United States from Singapore to face charges related to his role as an operator of a call center network that targeted US victims. The massive India-based telephone impersonation fraud and money laundering conspiracy defrauded thousands of US residents out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Hitesh Madhubhai Patel, 42, was extradited to the US last week. Patel of Ahmedabad, India, arrived in the United States and was arraigned on April 19 before a US magistrate judge in federal court in Houston, TX. The indictment, which was unsealed in October 2016, charged Patel and 60 other individuals and entities with general conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.
“Hitesh Patel operated a call center that allegedly preyed upon vulnerable US citizens as part of a massive fraud scheme,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski.
The indictment alleges that Patel operated the HGlobal call center conglomerate and participated in a complex fraudulent scheme involving a network of call centers based in Ahmedabad. Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, India-based conspirators allegedly called potential victims while impersonating officials from the IRS or US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
According to the indictment, the call center conspirators then threatened victims with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay taxes or penalties to the government. When victims agreed to pay, the call centers used a network of US-based conspirators to quickly liquidate and launder the extorted funds through the use of stored value cards or via wire transfers.
A total of 24 domestic defendants associated with this $230 million transnational criminal scheme have previously been convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment of up to 20 years in the Southern District of Texas, District of Arizona and Northern District of Georgia. The defendants were also ordered to pay millions of dollars in victim restitution and money judgments and to forfeit seized assets. Some defendants were ordered to be deported based on their illegal immigration status, with another defendant having his US citizenship revoked due to a separate conviction for immigration fraud. The remaining India-based defendants have yet to be arraigned in this case.