The fraudulent days of an Indian national came to an end on the 26th of April after he was arrested in Singapore and extradited to the United States of America. Before his arrest, the Indian was operating a network of call centers where he was intimidating and defrauding people. Most of his victims were US residents. He had managed to defraud several US residents of millions of dollars until his arrest.
The assistant attorney general at the department of justice in the US, Brian Benczkowski, said that the man, Hitesh Patel, was part of a bigger fraud scheme that targets vulnerable US citizens. They mostly use call centers to commit their crimes.
According to the US Justice Department, Hitesh Patel was in charge of a conglomerate known as HGlobal. HGlobal had several call centers most of them located in Ahmedabad in India.
Patel scouted victims through several conspirators who identified potential victims by digging information from data brokers. Patel and his co-conspirators would then call the victims impersonating US IRS or US immigration officers. They threatened the victims with deportation, fines, or arrests but gave them the option to avoid any of the consequences if they paid penalties or tax.
The Justice Department said that more than 1500 people had fallen victims of the scam in the last six years with the majority of them being South Asians living in the US.
If the victim agrees to pay the alleged penalties or taxes, the conglomerate would then launder all the money. They used US partners to wire transfers using accounts registered under proxy names. They also used stored value cards registered with false names to launder the money.
Special agent David Green from the US Department of Homeland Security warned that the historical arrest and extradition of Mr. Patel should be a notice to all individuals running transnational criminal organizations. He added that the DHS is more than willing to do anything legally possible to halt individuals who are enriching themselves by preying on the vulnerable members of the society.
Mr. Patel and his conglomerate organization also used short term loans to defraud unsuspecting victims. They offered the victims short term loans but, instead, stole all the deposits before fronting the money.
The US government had issued a request to Singapore for the arrest of Patel in September last year. Authorities in Singapore issued a warrant for the arrest of Patel later in March this year.
Twenty-four US citizens had been arrested and convicted in relation to playing a role in the conglomerate. All of the 24 defendants pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering conspiracies in 2017. There was a total of 61 individuals charged in connection with the scheme, but only the 24 individuals have been convicted. The 24 individuals acted either as the US-based runners that liquidated and laundered the stolen funds or as sources of data about potential victims.
Hitesh Patel was finally arraigned in court since the case was first mentioned in 2016. The other conspirators based in India are yet to be arraigned in court in relation to this fraudulent scheme.