World

Indian extradited from Singapore to US for multi-million dollar call centre scam

The Washington Justice Department announced on Friday that Singapore has extradited an Indian national to the United States to face charges in a call center fraud that scammed millions of dollars from victims in the United States.

Hitesh Madhubhai Patel, 42, of Ahmedabad was scheduled to be accused in a Houston, Texas federal court on Friday, along with 60 other for their involvement in a case of wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy which was firstly announced in 2016.

As per the reports, Patel ran the HGlobal call center, one of five India-based operations which allegedly worked together in an operation which targeted mostly South Asians living in the United States. Callers pretending to be US tax or immigration officials threatened them with arrest and deportation if they did not remit money to the government. The victims were then directed to people working with the call centers in the United States to collect the “fines” through prepaid debit cards or wire transfers, and the money was quickly laundered out of the country. The call centre conspirators also defrauded victims through other schemes, including via offering fake short-term loans or grants.

Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski in a statement said, “This extradition once again demonstrates the Department’s unwavering commitment to disrupt and dismantle the India-based call center scam industry and to work with our foreign partners to hold accountable those who perpetrate schemes that defraud our citizens.”

US Attorney Ryan Patrick of the Southern District of Texas said large complex international cases like these often take years to bring in foreign-based defendants, applauding America’s global partners in helping bring this case closer to a conclusion”.

Justice officials said that in the past six years more than 15,000 people have been cheated of over $75 million in scams in which callers pose as agents of the Internal Revenue Service, the federal tax agency.

The Justice Department said, “So far, in the Indian call center case, 24 domestic US defendants have been convicted and sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. The remaining India-based defendants have yet to be arraigned in this case.”

US Attorney Ryan Patrick of the Southern District of Texas said large complex international cases like these often take years to bring in foreign-based defendants, applauding America’s global partners in helping bring this case closer to a conclusion”.

Executive Associate Director Derek Benner of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) said Patel’s extradition should serve as a strong deterrent to anyone considering taking part in similar scams and hoped it provides a sense of justice for the victims as well.

The Justice Department said that Singapore authorities apprehended Patel at the request of the US following a provisional arrest warrant in September last year after he flew from India to Singapore.

The Singaporean Minister for Law issued a warrant on March 25, 2019, for Patel to be delivered into the custody of the United States.