Hitesh Madhubhai Patel, also known as Hitesh Hinglaj who hails from Ahmedabad has pleaded guilty in the US of wire fraud conspiracy and general conspiracy to commit identification fraud, access device fraud and money laundering via running call centers.
Patel, 43, pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Texas for his role in operating and funding India-based call centers whose callers, and US-based conspirators, defrauded US victims out of millions of dollars between 2013 and 2016, according to US Department of Justice.
“Hitesh Patel played a prominent role in this massive, India-based fraud scheme that bilked vulnerable Americans out of millions of dollars,” Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski said in a statement.
“This important resolution would not have occurred without the assistance of our Singaporean colleagues, to whom we extend our deep appreciation,” he added.
According to admissions that he made as part of his plea, Patel and his co-conspirators perpetrated a complex scheme in which employees from call centers in Ahmedabad, impersonated officials from the IRS and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and engaged in other telephone call scams designed to defraud victims throughout the US.
The victims were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay alleged monies owed to the government.
Those who fell victim to the scammers were instructed how to provide payment, including by purchasing general purpose reloadable (GPR) cards or wiring money.
Upon payment, the call centers would immediately turn to a network of “runners” based in the United States to liquidate and launder the fraudulently obtained funds.
In his plea, Patel admitted to operating and funding several India-based call centers from which the fraud schemes were perpetrated, including the call center HGLOBAL.
“Patel corresponded by email and WhatsApp messaging frequently with his co-defendants to exchange credit card numbers, telephone scam scripts, deposit slips, payment information, call center operations information and instructions, and bank account information,” said the DoJ.
Patel also received monthly income and expense reports to his personal email from the call centers, and used his Indian cell phone number to access GPR cards through automated telephone systems on many occasions.
A co-defendant described Patel as “the top person in India and the boss for whom most of the other defendants worked,” and the owner of multiple call centers.
Additionally, Patel admitted that a reasonably foreseeable loss of more than $25 million but less than $65 million was attributable to him, based on the government’s evidence against him.
Patel was prosecuted in the United States after being extradited from Singapore in April 2019 to face charges in this large-scale tele-fraud and money laundering scheme.