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September 18, 2018

Twenty-One Individuals Sentenced in Houston for Their Roles in an IRS Impersonation Scam

Between July 18, 2018 and July 20, 2018, in the Southern District of Texas, 21 defendants were sentenced for their roles in a conspiracy involving the impersonation of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees. All 21 of the defendants were part of an October 2016 indictment that charged 56 individuals, plus five major call centers located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. Three other coconspirators were sentenced earlier this year.

From about January 2012 and continuing until about October 2016, the coconspirators participated in a scheme to defraud U.S. residents by misleading them into sending money in connection with a number of different scams. In one of the scams, the coconspirators impersonated IRS officers to defraud U.S. residents by misleading them into believing that they owed money to the IRS and that they would be arrested and fined if they did not pay the alleged back taxes immediately. In another of the scams, the coconspirators impersonated U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers to defraud U.S. residents by misleading them into believing that they would be deported unless they immediately paid a fine for alleged problems with their USCIS paperwork.

These complex fraud schemes resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses by the victims. More than 15,000 known victims have incurred losses attributable to scam calls, and upwards of 50,000 individuals have had their identities misappropriated based on the unauthorized use of their Personally Identifiable Information to register general purpose reloadable (GPR) cards.

The cumulative total of the prison sentences for these 21 defendants is more than 174 years.

Miteshkumar Patel, sentenced to 240 months' imprisonment, was a runner and domestic manager of a crew of runners based primarily in Illinois. He is an Indian national with U.S. citizenship. He directed the activities of numerous Illinois-based runners, paid for their business expenses, and provided them with vehicles to drive to various retail stores and banks. He also facilitated their liquidation of GPR cards containing scammed funds at a gas station that he owned in Racine, Wisconsin.

Hardik Patel was sentenced to 188 months' imprisonment. He is an Indian national residing in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa. He was identified as a co-owner and manager of an India-based call center associated with organizational codefendant HGlobal.

Sunny Joshi was sentenced to 151 months' imprisonment, and his U.S. citizenship was revoked. He was identified as a runner operating in the Houston, Texas, area. He communicated extensively with India-based codefendants who were associated with organizational codefendant Call Mantra, and he directed the activities of other runners in the Houston area.

Other sentences ranged from 165 months' imprisonment to three years' probation. In addition to entering the prison sentences, the court filed orders of removal for several of the defendants. They will be deported from the United States upon completion of their prison sentences. The defendants are also jointly and severally liable for $8,970,396.15 in restitution.

    Source:  The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: S .D. Tex. Superseding Indict. filed Oct. 19, 2016; S.D. Tex. Plea Agr. filed June 2, 2017; S.D. Tex. Plea Agr. filed Oct. 27, 2017; S.D. Tex. Plea Agr. filed Nov. 13, 2017; S.D. Tex. Judgments filed July 25, 2018, July 26, 2018, and July 27, 2018; S.D. Tex. Crim. Docket as of July 30, 2018; D. Ariz. Judgment filed Jan. 30, 2018; N.D. Ga. Minute Sheet filed Feb. 14, 2018.