60 call center scammers sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined with $250k USD due to millionaire fraud

Cybercrime is being severely beaten worldwide. Hitesh Madhubhai Patel, originally from India, has just pleaded guilty of being involved in a fraudulent operation related to a network of call centers in India. According to digital forensics specialists, call center employees in India, in complicity with American citizens, scammed millions of people between 2013 and 2016.

Patel was extradited to the US almost a year ago, since then he waited to hear his sentence. The indictment, filed by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), points to the Indian citizen and 60 other individuals of crimes as conspiracy to commit fraud, electronic fraud and money laundering.

Digital forensics specialists mention that Patel and his accomplices developed a scheme in which employees in Indian call centers posed as US migration and tax officials. After contacting the victims, fraudsters demanded payment of alleged fees for government services; if victims did not pay, they were harassed by the scammers, who threatened them with suposed arrest, fines or deportation.

According to his statements in court, the defendant acknowledged that he had planned and financed the operations of these call centers, mainly from the business called HGLOBAL. In addition, Patel admitted that he exchanged victims’ names, account numbers, card numbers, scripts used during calls and other data with the rest of the involved ones, mainly via email and WhatsApp.

Digital forensics experts claim that attackers thoroughly studied the methods used in these kinds of scams, so they managed to develop a credible and threatening script, collecting information from tax agencies in countries such as Australia, Canada and United States. 

Patel was located and arrested in Singapore in April 2019. After a legal process of more than eight months, Patel finally pleaded guilty to electronic fraud, conspiracy to commit identity fraud, electronic device access fraud, money laundering and impersonation of a US federal employee. 

Specialists consulted by the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) mention that the sentence that the accused can receive is between 10 and 20 years in prison for electronic fraud, in addition to five years for conspiracy, not to mention the imposition of a fine of up to $250k USD or, failing that, a payment of twice the money generated by these illicit activities.