Indian national Hitesh Madhubhai Patel has been extradited to the United States from Singapore to face charges related to his alleged role as an operator of a call centre network that targeted American citizens. US Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski said that Patel operated a call centre that allegedly preyed upon vulnerable citizens as part of a massive fraud scheme. He will be produced before a magistrate judge in federal court in Houston, Texas.
The Indian national, who hails from Ahmedabad, was apprehended by Singapore authorities at the request of the US. In a statement issued on Saturday, the US Department of Justice said that Patel operated HGlobal call centre and participated in a complex fraudulent scheme involving a network of call centres based in Ahmedabad.
The department also explained the modus operandi used to defraud the US citizens. It said that the call centre operators allegedly called potential victims while impersonating officials from the IRS or US Citizenship and Immigration Services by using information obtained from data brokers and other sources.
After this, they 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 centres 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,” the department said in the statement.
The statement also said that the call centre operators also defrauded victims through other schemes like offering fake short-term loans or grants. The authorities alleged that the operators would request a good-faith deposit to show the victims ability to pay back the loan or a fee to process the grant.
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J Russell George said that since 2013, the IRS impersonation scam claimed more than 15,000 victims who have collectively suffered over USD 75 million in losses.
Earlier this month, Indian national Mehboob Mansurali Charania was sentenced to 16 months in jail in the US for his involvement in a call centre scheme that defrauded over 340 people resulting in over USD 200,000 in losses.