New York, Feb 25 (IANS) An Indian-American has been sentenced to 51 months in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud targeting the elderly, the US Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Virginia announced.
Jeel Patel, 22, from South Carolina was part of the scheme from February to June 2020, which originated from call centres in India that disproportionately targeted elders.
According to court documents, these call centres would initially contact victims using automated robocalls designed to create a sense of urgency with the recipients.
After making initial contact with victims, conspirators known as closers would impersonate government officials such as FBI or DEA agents.
These closers would trick and coerce victims into wiring funds to bank accounts controlled by the conspiracy, or shipping parcels of cash to addresses to which conspirators had access.
Couriers working for the conspiracy would retrieve the victims’ stolen money, save a portion for themselves, and forward the remainder to the call centre operators in India.
Jeel was one such courier, working for Bhavinkumar ‘Sunny’ Patel, who was previously prosecuted by the Eastern District of Virginia.
Patel, 28, of Richmond, operated a cell of couriers in several states that was responsible for losses exceeding $3 million to more than 120 victims.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in April 2022.
During the brief four-month period that Jeel worked for Patel, the defendant retrieved or attempted to retrieve 14 packages from 10 different victims, with total actual losses of $485,020.
Jeel also participated in repeated home pickups during which he traveled to the residences of two different 80-year-old victims located in Michigan and South Carolina, and under the guise of being a DEA official took the money directly from the victims, court documents revealed.