24 people sentenced for massive IRS call center scam
24 people have been sentenced in federal court for their role in the massive i-r-s scam based out of India. Officials say the defendants are responsible for scamming thousands of people out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The DOJ says all of the defendants were sentenced to federal prison -- with sentences ranging from 10 years to 20 years. All of the defendants will also have to pay back millions of dollars in restitution, and some of them will be deported back to India. The IRS scam harassed unsuspecting victims across the country between 2012 and 2016. The victims would be threatened with jail time if they did not send money to the scammer, who pretended to be IRS agents..
The scammers said the money was for so-called "back taxes". In most cases, the victim never actually owed back taxes to begin with. The DOJ says that mostly older and elderly Americans fell victim to the scam.
Background information on some of the defendants:
Miteshkumar Patel, 42, of Illinois, was sentenced to serve 240 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on the charge of money laundering conspiracy. According to the factual basis of his plea agreement, Patel served as the manager of a Chicago-based crew of “runners” that liquidated and laundered fraud proceeds generated by callers at India-based call centers. Those callers used call scripts and lead lists to target victims throughout the United States with telefraud schemes in which the callers impersonated U.S. government employees from the IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The callers duped victims into believing that they owed money to the U.S. government and would be arrested or deported if they did not pay immediately. After the victims transferred money to the callers, a network of U.S.-based runners moved expeditiously to liquidate and launder fraud proceeds through the use of anonymous stored value cards. In addition to recruiting, training, and tasking runners in his crew, Patel also coordinated directly with the Indian side of the conspiracy about the operation of the scheme. Patel was held accountable for laundering between $9.5 and $25 million for the scheme.
Hardik Patel, 31, of Illinois, was sentenced to serve 188 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on the charge of wire fraud conspiracy. Hardik consented to removal to India upon completion of his prison term. According to the factual basis of his plea agreement, Patel was a co-owner and manager of an India-based call center involved in the conspiracy. In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of a call center, Patel also processed payments and did bookkeeping for the various call centers involved in the fraud scheme. One of the India-based co-defendants with whom Patel communicated about the scheme was Sagar “Shaggy” Thakar, a payment processor that Indian authorities arrested in April 2017 in connection with call center fraud. After moving to the United States in 2015, Patel continued to promote the conspiracy by recruiting runners to liquidate fraud proceeds. Patel was held accountable for laundering between $3.5 and $9.5 million dollars for the scheme.
Sunny Joshi, aka Sharad Ishwarlal Joshi and Sunny Mahashanker Joshi, 47, of Texas, was sentenced to serve 151 months in prison on the charge of money laundering conspiracy, and 120 months in prison on the charge of naturalization fraud to run concurrent followed by three years of supervised release. According to the factual basis of his plea agreement, Joshi was a member of a Houston-based crew of runners that he co-managed with his brother, co-defendant Mike Joshi, aka Rajesh Bhatt. Sunny Joshi communicated extensively with India-based co-defendants about the operations of the scheme, and was held accountable for laundering between $3.5 and $9.5 million. Additionally, in connection with his sentence on the immigration charge, Judge Hittner entered an order revoking Joshi’s U.S. citizenship and requiring him to surrender his certificate of naturalization.