Tuesday, 28 November 2017 08:23

US-based men plead guilty in Indian phone scam

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All 24 US-based men who are accused of taking part in a phone scam operated with the help of call centres in India have been taken into custody and have entered guilty pleas, with the last man offering a guilty plea on 13 November.

Miteshkumar Patel, 42, who is based in Illinois, pleaded guilty to money-laundering conspiracy, joining six others who have entered similar pleas.

The 24 men, along with 32 others who are in India, are accused of defrauding US residents of hundreds of millions of dollars.

As iTWire reported last year, the call centres named in the indictment are HGlobal, Call Mantra (aka Robust Inc, Raytheon International), Worldwide Solution, Zoriion Communications and Sharma BPO Services, all of which are located in Ahmedabad in the Indian state of Gujarat.

According to the original indictment, in some cases, people from these call centres pretended to be officers of the US Internal Revenue Service and defrauded Americans by claiming they owed money to the IRS and saying they would be arrested and fined if they did not pay their back-taxes right away.

In other cases, they impersonated officers from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and misled US residents into believing they would be deported unless they paid fines for alleged irregularities with their residence papers.

US residents were also misled into believing that they were eligible for so-called payday loans and that they needed to pay a small fee upfront to indicate that they had enough funds to repay the loan.

And in a fourth set of cases, the call centres misled Americans into believing they were eligible for fictitious government grants and asked them to pay an upfront fee towards an IRS tax or a processing fee.

The scams began in 2013, according to admissions made by Miteshkumar who is to be sentenced on 7 March next year.

The other 17 US-based defendants are: Bharatkumar Patel, Ashvinbhai Chaudhari, Harsh Patel, Nilam Parikh, Hardik Patel, Rajubhai Patel, Viraj Patel, Dilipkumar A. Patel, Fahad Ali, Bhavesh Patel, Asmitaben Patel, Montu Barot, Nilesh Pandya, Dipakkumar Patel, Nisarg Patel, Rajesh Kumar, and Dilipkumar Ramanlal Patel who previously pleaded guilty on various dates between April and September 2017.

The break-up of people charged and their affiliations – HGlobal: 18 each in India and the US; Call Mantra: three each in India and the US; Worldwide Solution: two in India, three in the US; Zoriion Communications: seven in India; and Sharma BPO Services: two in India. This makes for a total of 32 people in India and 24 in the US.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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