Indian-American couple arrested for laundering over USD 400,000 on behalf of phone scammers


Washington, Jul 15: An Indian-American couple has been arrested by the federal agents for allegedly laundering over USD 400,000 by misleading US citizens on behalf of India-based phone scammers, according to the US Department of Justice.
Mehulkumar Manubhai Patel and Chitali Dave, both 36, allegedly laundered over USD 400,000 between May 2019 and January 2020 sent by at least 24 victims trapped in the scam, it said on Tuesday.
The couple was on June 9 charged by a federal grand jury with money laundering conspiracy and money laundering. Patel and Dave were arraigned on June19 and on July 14.
“Criminal India-based call centers sought to prey on vulnerable members of our community and steal from them by misleading them over the phone,” US Attorney Byung J “BJay” Pak said.
“Those, like Patel and Dave, who allegedly launder money in the United States on behalf of foreign-based fraudsters, are the linchpins of those schemes,” he added.
Federal prosecutors alleged that as part of their Social Security scam, India-based callers pose as federal agents in order to mislead victims into believing their Social Security numbers were involved in crimes.
Callers threatened arrest and the loss of the victims’ assets if the victims did not send money.
The callers directed victims to mail cash to aliases used by other members of the fraud network, including Patel and Dave.
As part of the tech support scam, callers allegedly induced victims to send money in exchange for supposed technical support for their computers. The callers then provided nothing in return, the statement said.
At times, callers misled the victims into providing remote access to their computers and the callers would access the victims’ bank accounts.
The callers routinely misled the victims by making it appear as though the caller added money to the victims’ bank accounts.
The callers then instructed the victims to mail cash to aliases used by other members of the fraud network, including Patel and Dave, the statement said. (PTI)