An Indian citizen in Florida, who was convicted for participating in an India-based call-center scam, has been handed a stiff sentence of seven years and six months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington, May 30.
Sharvil Patel, 23, of Tampa, Florida, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and pleaded guilty on Feb. 6. As part of his sentence, the court also entered a money judgment of $80,000.
According to court documents outlined in a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, from 2014 through at least 2016, Patel conspired with U.S.-based co-conspirators and India-based call centers to extort money from U.S. residents by impersonating IRS officers and misleading victims to believe that they owed money to the IRS and would be arrested and fined if they did not pay their alleged back taxes immediately.
In what was considered one of the largest international scams of its kind, the conspirators collected the money made through fraud by (1) withdrawing cash from prepaid cards purchased and funded by victims; (2) hiring other conspirators (runners) to retrieve money wired by the victims to those runners; and/or (3) hiring runners to open bank accounts into which victims deposited fraud proceeds.
The defendants collected the ill-gotten gains by providing the runners with the victims’ names, locations, and amounts paid. The runners were directed to retrieve the fraud proceeds in cash and turn the funds over to the defendants, often less a payment to the runner for opening the account or conducting the transaction.
Four others previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme. In March 2019, Alejandro Juarez was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison and Nishitkumar Patel was sentenced to 8 years and 9 months in federal prison. In April 2019, Hemalkumar Shah was sentenced to 8 years and 6 months in federal prison and Brenda Dozier was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison.