Indian National Ripped off Americans/Others for Millions via Call Center Scam

He was on the run and we tracked him down in Singapore.

If you’ve ever gotten one of those calls where someone tells you they are from the IRS and you owe money, surely you hung up! However thousands of gullible people did not hang up and sent this Indian crook their hard-earned money.

Well one more of the international crooks ripping us off will now be behind bars.

Thanks to reader Charles for tipping me off about this story, here is the US Justice Department news about Hitesh Madhubhai Patel aka Hitesh Hinglaj, 43, of Ahmedabad, India:

(By the way, I like the fact that we are now seeing mention of the nationality of crooks more prominently mentioned sparing us from having to spend time playing the secret decoder ring game with the criminal’s name.)

Indian national convicted of role in call center scam that victimized thousands in the U.S.

HOUSTON – An Indian national has entered a guilty plea for his role in operating and funding India-based call centers which defrauded thousands of victims out of millions of dollars between 2013 and 2016.

Hitesh Madhubhai Patel aka Hitesh Hinglaj, 43, of Ahmedabad, India, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud as well as a general conspiracy to commit identification fraud, access device fraud, money laundering and to impersonate a federal officer or employee.

“Hitesh Patel played a prominent role in this massive, India-based fraud scheme that bilked vulnerable Americans out of millions of dollars,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This important resolution would not have occurred without the assistance of our Singaporean colleagues, to whom we extend our deep appreciation.”

Patel and his conspirators perpetrated a complex scheme in which employees from call centers in Ahmedabad, India, impersonated officials from the IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They also engaged in other telephone call scams designed to defraud victims throughout the United States. U.S. victims were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay alleged monies owed to the government.

An image of a call center at a website that also reported this news entitled: ‘Financial Fraud News’. https://www.financialfraudnews.com/indian-national-convicted-of-role-in-call-center-scam-that-victimized-thousands-in-the-u-s/

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 organizational co-defendant call center HGLOBAL. Patel frequently corresponded by email and WhatsApp messaging with co-defendants to exchange credit card numbers, telephone scam scripts, deposit slips, payment information, call center operations information, instructions and bank account information. The scripts included impersonation of IRS, USCIS, Canada Revenue Agency and Australian Tax Office personnel as well as payday loan, U.S. government grant and debt collection fraud schemes.

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.” Another co-defendant claimed Patel was arrested in India in 2016, but paid a bribe and was released. Additionally, Patel admitted he was accountable for approximately $25-65 million.

Patel was extradited from Singapore in April 2019 to face charges in this large-scale telefraud and money laundering scheme. Singapore authorities apprehended Patel at the request of the United States pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant in September 2018 after Patel flew there from India.

As I have said before, the President should regularly highlight all of the scams his Justice Department is busting.

Announcement of Largest Elder Fraud Sweep in US History went Largely Unnoticed

Barr announces elder fraud
 
Last week, new Attorney General William Barr announced a massive bust of the crooks scamming the elderly in America.  The investigation which began under former AG Jeff Sessions nabbed criminals in the US and abroad.
As with the college admissions fraud we learned about yesterday, I recommend that the Trump Administration put their fraud-busting work front and center as they head into the 2020 election cycle.
No one, on either side of the political aisle wants to be ripped-off!
Continue reading “Announcement of Largest Elder Fraud Sweep in US History went Largely Unnoticed”

Federal Trade Commission Reports Top Frauds for 2018

This isn’t a juicy frauds and crooks story like some I’ve reported lately, but it is a useful one sent to me by a reader.
FTC logo
The FTC last week reported a summary of what kinds of consumer frauds were trending and tells us which states are the most fraud-ridden (or at least the states where in 2018 people reported that they had been defrauded).
And get this…..

There was a 38% jump in the amount of money lost to fraud in 2018 over 2017, says the FTC!

Learn which states are the worst for consumer fraud and where to report this type of fraud!
Continue reading “Federal Trade Commission Reports Top Frauds for 2018”

Be Aware of the Top Ten Scams that Steal from Granny

CNBC recently published a list of the Top Ten Scams that are perpetrated against seniors in the US.

Scams cheat older Americans out of almost $3 billion a year. Here’s what to watch for

Seniors lose an estimated $2.9 billion annually from financial exploitation, according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
Screenshot (888)
Impersonating the IRS was the No. 1 scam targeting seniors in 2018.
More than 1,500 seniors across the country contacted the committee’s fraud hotline in 2018; however, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in recent testimony that only 1 in every 24 cases of elder exploitation gets reported.
“Despite that under-reporting, statistically one in every 10 Americans age 65 or older who lives at home will become a victim of abuse,” he wrote.
Here are the top 10 scams targeting seniors last year, according to the Senate aging committee’s 2019 Fraud Book:

For a description of each of the ten, go back to CNBC or the Fraud Book mentioned above.

1. IRS impersonators
2. Robocalls
3. Sweepstakes scam/Jamaican lottery scam
4. Computer tech support fraud
5. Elder financial abuse
6. Grandparent scams
7. Romance frauds
8. Fake Social Security calls
9. Lawsuit or arrest threats
10. Identity theft
 
Identity thieves not only drain bank accounts and charge credit cards, but they also defraud the government and taxpayers by using stolen personal information to submit fraudulent billings to Medicare and Medicaid.
The Senate aging committee recommends that victims place a fraud alert, report identity theft or file a police report if a scam is suspected.

Sit down with elderly relatives and explain the kinds of frauds that they might experience and then take time and report fraud or suspected fraud.
Almost a day doesn’t go by that I don’t get some call about “free” knee braces and such!  How about you?

Foreign Phone Scammer Nabbed after Targeting the Wrong Elderly Couple

This is a funny story that should warm your heart!
If you’ve had grandma or grandpa targeted like this you will be thrilled to see this news!
From NBC News,

Telephone scam artist picked the wrong target — former FBI and CIA director William Webster

 

William-Webster
Former spy chief William Webster and his wife Lynda nabbed the creep!  Photo: https://capitolfile-magazine.com/getting-to-know-former-cia-and-fbi-director-william-webster

 
A telephone scam artist picked the wrong target — former FBI chief and CIA boss William Webster.

Jamaica map
Phone scam artist was Jamaican

Keniel Thomas, 29, from Jamaica, pleaded guilty in October to interstate communication with the intent to extort, federal authorities said.
He was sentenced to 71 months in prison last week by U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell in Washington, D.C., and will be deported after he has served his term, officials said.
Thomas made his first call to Webster on June 9, 2014, identifying himself as David Morgan. He said that he was the head of the Mega Millions lottery and that Webster was the winner of $15.5 million and a 2014 Mercedes Benz, according to court documents.
Little did Thomas know that he was targeting the man who had served as director of the FBI and then the CIA under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
“It seemed to me that something wasn’t quite right,” Webster, 94, said in an interview Tuesday with “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.” “This was pretty obvious to me that there was something fishy about it.”
Thomas told Webster and his wife, Lynda, that they must pay him $50,000 to cover the taxes on the prize, authorities said.
The Websters notified the FBI, and the agency recorded follow-up calls the couple had with Thomas.

This guy was meaner than most…

“He terrified me,” Lynda Webster told NBC News. “He told me that what the sniper’s bullet would do to my head and the blood would go onto my white house.”
The FBI eventually learned Thomas’s identity and arrested him on Dec. 18, 2017, when he landed at JFK International Airport in New York, unaware he was a wanted man.

More here.

question markWhat do you do?
I don’t know about you, but I get phone scams on a regular basis. If you are feeling as feisty as the Websters, do some homework and figure out how you can work with the feds to nab a foreign scammer. 
At minimum be sure to educate grandma and grandpa about these crooks.