Indian-American admits role in phone scam costing victims thousands of dollars

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An Indian-origin man in the US has pleaded guilty to taking part in a phone scam in which he called victims around the country and lied to extract thousands of dollars from them. Satishkumar Rameshchandra Patel admitted to one charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, before a federal court in the US state of Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported on Tuesday.

From August 2018 to August 2021, Patel took part in the scheme wherein the scammers called up the victims and told them that they were government officials. They convinced people they were in legal or financial trouble and needed to send money to resolve the issues or protect their savings, according to Patel’s plea. Patel provided fake names to others taking part in the scam, as well as addresses where they could direct victims to send money, the news report said.

In one of the cases, a Texas woman was made to send $48,000 to the address of a Dollar General store in Pulaski County, where someone associated with the conspiracy could pick it up. Citing another case, Patel’s plea mentioned a woman from California who received a call from someone posing as a Social Security Administration official. The caller told the woman that her Social Security number had turned up in a drug investigation and that as a result her money was in danger of being confiscated by the government.

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To prevent that, the woman sent a total of $380,000 by Federal Express to addresses in the Chicago area. Patel picked up two of the shipments, according to his plea document, which stated that the government contends there were 10 or more victims of the scam who caused substantial financial hardship to one or more of the victims. While Patel operated the scam out of the Chicago area, he was charged in Kentucky as the conspirators used addresses in the state to receive fraudulent payments, according to the indictment.