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October 24, 2018

Individual Sentenced to Nearly 20 Years in Prison for IRS Impersonation Scam

On August 9, 2018, in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Hiteshkumar Patel was sentenced for his role in a scheme involving the impersonation of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees. Patel was indicted for the scheme in June 2017, and in November 2017 he pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.

According to the court documents, Patel, a resident of South Abington Township, Pennsylvania, came to the United States in 1995 and became a naturalized citizen in 2004. From about August 2015 through about May 2016, Patel knowingly and willingly conspired with others to devise a scheme and obtain money by means of fraudulent pretenses. Patel and his coconspirators contacted individuals by telephone and falsely claimed to represent the IRS. They told the victims that they owed money to the IRS and threatened them with arrest, fines, and imprisonment unless they immediately paid their debts. They instructed the victims to send payments directly to Patel or to one of his coconspirators to satisfy their purported IRS debts.

Patel and his coconspirators also accepted online loan applications and fraudulently caused applicants to believe that they had to pay fees in advance in order to receive guaranteed loans. In some cases, they falsely told the loan applicants that their prior IRS debts had to be satisfied before a loan could be approved.

The scheme perpetuated a stereotypical fear of Government agencies. Patel's victims feared monetary sanctions and arrest by the IRS. The investigation identified 634 victims with a total loss of $934,406.77 directly attributed to the conspiracy. The scheme spanned 18 States and crossed international borders to the country of India. Patel and his coconspirators preyed on vulnerable victims with limited financial resources. One victim stated that her "golden years" were now her "stolen years," as a result of Patel's stealing more than $100,000 from her. Another victim said that he felt "frightened and bullied" into believing that he would be arrested if he did not send large amounts of money. Still other victims described physical illness due to stress caused by financial loss or eviction from a residence because of the scam.

Patel was sentenced to 234 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $896,112.33 in restitution to the victims.

Source:  The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: M.D. Pa. Indict. filed June 20, 2017; M.D. Pa. Plea Agr. filed Nov. 9, 2017; M.D. Pa. Government's Sentencing Memorandum filed Aug. 6, 2018; M.D. Pa. Sentencing Memorandum filed Aug. 7, 2018; M.D. Pa. Judgment filed Aug. 16, 2018.