Indian national sentenced to 22 years for defrauding Americans

PTI, Sep 17, 2021, 9:40 AM IST

Source: unsplash

Washington: A US court has sentenced an Indian national to 22 years in prison for defrauding over 4,000 Americans of more than USD 10 million with his operation of an overseas robocall scam.

Shehzadkhan Pathan, 40, operated a call center in Ahmedabad from which automated robocalls were made to victims in the United States.

After establishing contact with victims through these automated calls, Pathan and other ‘closers’ at his call center would coerce, cajole, and trick victims into sending bulk cash through physical shipments and electronic money transfers, the Department of Justice said on Thursday.

Pathan and his conspirators used a variety of schemes to convince victims to send money, including impersonating law enforcement officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and representatives of other government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, to threaten victims with severe legal and financial consequences.

Conspirators also convinced victims to send money as initial installments for falsely promised loans, federal prosecutors said.

‘This defendant has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for being the mastermind and leader of an extensive multimillion-dollar robocall scheme that, from overseas, exploited over 4,000 American victims,’ said Raj Parekh, Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

‘The impact of the harm inflicted on the victims of these robocall schemes can be devastating. The victims, many of whom are elderly, continue to endure significant financial hardship from the defendant’s vast fraud enterprise,’ he said.

Pathan operated and supervised the call center and was the ‘closer’ when speaking to victims. He managed the money couriers who illegally sent millions of stolen and hard-earned funds belonging to the victims back to his call center, Parekh said.

‘When you consider the sheer number of victims this defendant extorted and the magnitude of their losses, the scale of harm and pain he caused is enormous.

‘As this case demonstrates, we will continue to work closely with our partners to investigate, apprehend, and prosecute transnational criminal enterprises that steal from vulnerable American victims, and will bring the perpetrators of these scams to justice no matter where they are located,’ he said.

Pathan is the fourth of six defendants, in this case, to be sentenced for their role in the conspiracy. Co-defendants Pradipsinh Parmar, 41, and Sumer Patel, 38, both from Ahmedabad acted as money couriers during the conspiracy, and are scheduled to be sentenced on September 20.

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