An Indian-American man from Illinois, who previously lived in Massachusetts, pleaded guilty June 26, in federal court in Worcester, MA, to a wire fraud scheme in which victims were told they owed money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Ashok Kumar Patel, a/k/a Andy Patel, 30, of Hoffman Estates, Ill., and formerly of Worcester and Plainville, Mass., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering, according to a June 27, press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 23, 2019. In June 2017, Patel was arrested and charged. He was released from custody on conditions.
From December 2013 to October 2014, Patel was part of a conspiracy in which victims in the United States were contacted by individuals, primarily in India, and falsely told that they owed money to the IRS.
The victims were told that in order to avoid imminent arrest, they had to purchase MoneyPak, or other types of prepaid stored value cards, load thousands of dollars onto the cards, and provide the serial numbers to the callers.
After doing so, the victims’ money was quickly transferred to a prepaid debit card, such as Green Dot Debit Cards, which were then used to purchase money orders.
Patel was responsible for purchasing the prepaid debit cards, using them to purchase money orders and then depositing the purchased money orders into various bank accounts, including his own.
The charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud each could lead to a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of money laundering provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000, or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.