An Indian national received a prison sentence of 20 years for having created a call center scheme that preyed upon U.S. individuals.
On November 30, U.S. District Judge David Hittner handed down a 20-year prison sentence to Hitesh Madhubhai Patel, aka Hitesh Hinglaj, 44, of Ahmedabad, India.
The sentence stemmed from charges of wire fraud conspiracy along with conspiracy to commit identification fraud, access device fraud, money laundering and impersonation of a federal officer.
Patel received those charges for a call center scheme that he helped to create in 2013.
According to his plea agreement, Patel and his co-conspirators used call centers in Ahmedabad, India to scam individuals living in the United States.
Some of these scams involved the conspirators impersonating officials from the IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They subsequently leveraged those disguises to threaten victims with arrest, imprisonment, fines and even deportation unless they paid an amount of money that they allegedly owed to the U.S. federal government.
Authorities in Singapore arrested Patel after he flew there from India in September 2018. Singapore subsequently extradited Patel to the United States in the spring of 2019.
Special Agent in Charge David Green of the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) explained that this sentence should serve as a warning to call center scammers everywhere. As quoted in a Department of Justice press release:
The sentence imposed today provides a clear deterrent to those who would seek to enrich themselves by extorting the most vulnerable in our society through these types of scams. These foreign call center operators and their U.S. based affiliates should know that their actions carry real life consequences, both for their victims and for themselves, and that there are dedicated agents and prosecutors who will work tirelessly to identify them, find them and hold them accountable for their crimes.
In addition to mandating a prison sentence, Judge Hittner ordered that Patel complete three years of supervised release and pay $8,970,396 in restitution to his victims.