LOS ANGELES: An Indian-American from California has pleaded guilty to the charges of defrauding elderly people.
Anuj Mahendrabhai Patel, 31, allegedly helped collect more than USD 500,000 in cash, conned out of elderly victims by other co-conspirators pretending to be federal agents threatening them with arrest on bogus warrants.
Patel admitted on Wednesday that the scheme involved at least 10 victims, many of whom he knew were vulnerable people.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for June 28 and Patel may face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
From April 2019-March 2020, Patel participated in an international conspiracy that deceived elderly victims out of their money, according to his plea agreement.
Other members of the conspiracy, some of whom are believed to be in India, telephoned victims and pretended to be government employees or law enforcement officers.
Using several false pretenses, including phony badge numbers and using spoofed government telephone numbers, the co-conspirators convinced the victims, most of whom were elderly, that their identities or assets were in trouble, the Department of Justice said.
Some victims were told that their Social Security numbers had been linked to crimes and that there were warrants issued by courts authorising the victims’ arrests.
The co-conspirators told the victims that to clear the warrants, they should withdraw their savings and send cash by mail to other members of the scheme, according to federal prosecutors.
The victims were ordered to send the parcels through shipping companies that allowed parcel recipients to pick up parcel so long as the recipients had identification matching the names listed on the parcel as the addressees.
The addresses the defendants gave primarily were at locations in Riverside County, but also in Los Angeles and San Diego counties.
Patel admitted that he used tracking numbers to monitor the victims’ parcels, and communicated with couriers — Elmer Miranda Barrios, 36, and William Margarito Barrios, 36, who used fraudulent identification documents matching the names listed on the parcels as addresses.
Patel also admitted to receiving or intending to receive 18 packages sent by the victims.