Indian origin couple charged in US phone scam money laundering


By Arul Louis

New York, Jul 15 (IANS): An Indian origin couple have been charged with phone scam money laundering and arrested by federal officials, according to the Justice Department, while another man has been sentenced two years.

Mehulkumar Manubhai Patel and his wife Chitali Dave allegedly laundered over $400,000 on behalf of India-based phone scammers who cheated Americans into sending money by pretending to be government officials or tech support, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

In a separate case, Joish Patel was sentenced by federal Judge William Ray on Thursday for picking up $140,000 in a scam.

Dave was produced before federal Magistrate Judge Linda T Walker in Atlanta on Tuesday.

The couple were both charged by a grand jury - a citizen's panel that makes the initial determination if there was a prima facie case - on June 9 and Medjulkumar Patel was produced before federal Magistrate Jude Christopher C Bly also in Atlanta on June 19.

The federal prosecutor in Atlanta, Byung J Pak, said, "Criminal India-based call centres sought to prey on vulnerable members of our community and steal from them by misleading them over the phone. Those, like Patel and Dave, who allegedly launder money in the United States on behalf of foreign-based fraudsters, are the linchpins of those schemes."

In Joish Patel's scam callers in the network called up Americans and said they owed taxes for which they could be arrested or told them they had to send money to qualify for loans, the Justice Department said.

He collected the money from the victims in 2017 using fake IDs, the department said.

In one of the scams that Medhulkumar Patel and Dave were allegedly involved in, India-based phone operators posed as US officials and told the victims in the US that their Social Security numbers - the equivalent of Aadhar card numbers required for some financial transactions - had been used in crimes, the prosecutors said.

The scammers threatened to arrest them or seize their assets if they did not send money to aliases used by members of the fraud network, allegedly including Patel and Dave, according to prosecutors.

In the tech support scam, the callers persuaded people to send money for services they did not provide or got access through the victims' computer to their bank accounts and made it appear that money had been added to their accounts and had them send money, prosecutors said.

Members of the network in the US collected the money and sent it onward.

According to the prosecutors, Patel and Dave, who lived in Lexington in South Carolina and are 36 years old, laundered $400,000 between May last year and January.

The prosecutors did not provide details of the others running the scams, but scores of Indian origin people have been prosecuted for scams originating in India.

Mehboob Mansurali Charania was sentenced to 16 months in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta in a prosecution by Pak's office last April for a scam by operators in India who pretended to be tax officials, or who hacked computers.

  

Comment on this article

  • JC, Mangalore/USA

    Thu, Jul 16 2020

    Patelji and Daveji

    Please return of $2000 that you stole in 2017, we are anxiously waiting

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Joshua, Mangalore

    Wed, Jul 15 2020

    Patel means originally from Gujarat
    Again Gujarati

    DisAgree Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • j.anata, Mangaluru / Bengaluru

    Wed, Jul 15 2020

    It has from long ago when someone embarked on Nashville and NYC cities, we know who!

    DisAgree [3] Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Wed, Jul 15 2020

    Mehulkumar Manubhai Patel.

    Joish Patel.

    Which part of Karnataka are they from?

    DisAgree [3] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Amit, Mangalore

    Wed, Jul 15 2020

    My friend, they are from Karnataka's Gandhinagar near former Baroda and Daku's Constituency 😂😂😂

    DisAgree [1] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • k b r, Mangala Uru

    Wed, Jul 15 2020

    Mr and Mrs Patel implementing "Gujarath Model" in the US...

    DisAgree [3] Agree [26] Reply Report Abuse

  • j.anata, Mangaluru / Bengaluru

    Wed, Jul 15 2020

    Wrong to blame a community. Please remember others who are masquerading as "innocents" in terror cases, so we blame all others in that community as Terrorists?

    DisAgree [13] Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Nawaz, Abu Dhabi

    Wed, Jul 15 2020

    I know you do...lol

    DisAgree Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • francis lobo, Mangalore

    Wed, Jul 15 2020

    USA makes great sandwiches so no biryani!. Enjoy your stay.

    For their bad luck they did not escape to India they would have been safe. A lot of NRI from the middle east are doing it now as they know that India is a safe country .Only people who made fraud in India are safe in other countries.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [20] Reply Report Abuse

  • abu mohammed, KSA - Mangalore

    Wed, Jul 15 2020

    Howdy Gang!

    DisAgree [5] Agree [24] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Wed, Jul 15 2020

    Fekugiri has reached USA ...

    DisAgree [12] Agree [30] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mohan Prabhu,, Mangalore (Kankanady)/Ottawa, Canada

    Wed, Jul 15 2020

    You can say that again. These buggs.. have infected North America long before Covid 19 struck and have infected the Indo-Pak community everywhere, living off their hard earned money.

    DisAgree Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse


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