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Georgia woman arrested for role in swindling 80-year-old of $1.5 million in gold bars

NRI PULSE STAFF REPORT

Atlanta, GA, May 18, 2024: An Indian American woman from Georgia, Swetaben Patel, 42, was arrested on Thursday in connection with a large, multi-state fraud operation that scammed an elderly Bradenton, Florida man out of $1.5 million of his life savings in the form of gold bars.

Authorities believe that Patel is part of a larger network involved in the scam.

The Bradenton Police Department received a fraud report in April from an 80-year-old veteran. Detectives discovered that the scam started in February when two individuals posing as federal agents visited the man’s home.

“They said they had a warrant for his arrest,” Detective Jim Curulla told Fox 13. The fake agents then called a supposed supervisor, who spoke to the victim. The “supervisor” claimed the man could help with a social security fraud investigation instead of being arrested.

Over the next month, the scammer called the veteran daily. They convinced him to provide “seed money” for a fake sting operation. The man, a retired military officer, was persuaded to transfer about $1.5 million of his retirement savings in gold bars to the scammers.

The victim was instructed to make several gold transfers and meet the fake agents at different locations.

Investigators traced a car used in one of these transfers to Patel, who lives in Georgia. Patel allegedly admitted to police that she was picking up “bags” for someone she knew as “King.” She also said she had recently collected $25,000 from an elderly woman in North Carolina.

Curulla noted that fraud schemes involving gold bars are becoming more common nationwide. “Gold is quickly turned into cash and becomes almost impossible to trace,” he said. “It’s very difficult to solve these cases with so many people involved.”

Officer Deana McNeal, from the Bradenton Police Department’s Elderly Fraud Unit, told Fox 13 that they handle reports of elder fraud almost every day, typically involving phone scams, romance scams, and social security scams.

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