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Owner and Operator of India-Based Call Centers Sentenced to Prison for Defrauding U.S. Customers

Owner and Operator of India-Based Call Centers Sentenced to Prison for Defrauding U.S. Customers

  • Hitesh Madhubhai Patel of Ahmedabad and his co-conspirators pretended to be officials from the IRS and USCIS and threatened callers with arrest and deportation to defraud them of millions of dollars.

An Indian man was sentenced on Nov. 30 to 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release in the Southern District of Texas for his role in  a call center scam. Hitesh Madhubhai Patel, also known as Hitesh Hinglaj, 44, of Ahmedabad, was found guilty of operating and funding India-based call centers that defrauded U.S. victims out of millions of dollars. 

In April 2019, Patel, who ran the HGlobal call center, was extradited to the U.S. from Singapore. This January, he was charged with wire fraud conspiracy and general conspiracy to commit identification fraud, access device fraud, money laundering, and impersonation of a federal officer or employee. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $8, 970,396 to identified victims of his crimes. Patel was among 60 people who were charged in 2016, when the case was first announced.

Between 2013 and 2016, Patel and his co-conspirators pretended to be officials from the IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and threatened callers with arrest and deportation if they did not remit money to the government. Those who fell victim 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.

Patel corresponded by email and WhatsApp messaging frequently with his co-defendants to exchange credit card numbers, telephone scam scripts, and call center operations instructions.  In the Jan. 9 DOJ press release, 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.  “Another co-defendant stated that Patel was arrested in India in 2016, but then paid a bribe and was released,” the press release said.

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A total of 24 domestic defendants associated with this transnational criminal scheme were previously convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment of up to 20 years in the Southern District of Texas, District of Arizona and Northern District of Georgia. The defendants were also ordered to pay millions of dollars in victim restitution and money judgments and to forfeit seized assets. Some defendants were ordered to be deported based on their illegal immigration status, with another defendant having his U.S. citizenship revoked due to a separate conviction for immigration fraud. 

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