Two Men Plead Guilty in Multimillion-Dollar International Robocalls Scheme
RICHMOND, VA (STL.News) Two Indian nationals pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges relating to their involvement in an overseas-based robocalls scheme that defrauded thousands of victims out of millions of dollars.
“Pradipsinh Parmar crisscrossed the United States to collect nearly $6 million that was stolen from more than 4,000 victims in an international robocalls scam,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “By falsely impersonating representatives of the FBI, DEA, Social Security Administration, and other government agencies, members of this conspiracy preyed on thousands of unsuspecting victims, many of whom were elderly. This Office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to combat international financial fraud and elder abuse schemes.”
According to court documents, Pradipsinh Parmar, 41, collected money on behalf of the robocall conspiracy that victims had sent either by a parcel delivery carrier or through a wire service. Upon receiving the victims’ money, Parmar deposited these funds into bank accounts as directed by the conspiracy’s leader, Shehzadkhan Pathan, 39, who previously pleaded guilty on January 15.
Pathan operated a call center in Ahmedabad, India, 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 to send bulk cash through physical shipments and electronic money transfers.
Pathan and his conspirators used a variety of schemes to convince victims to send money, including impersonating law enforcement officials from the FBI and 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 via wire transfer as initial installments for falsely promised loans. A significant number of victims who were tricked or coerced into sending bulk cash were elderly.
As part of his guilty plea, Parmar admitted that over a two-year period from March 2017 to April 2019, he traveled to 30 states and collected at least 4,358 wire transfers sent by victims via Western Union, MoneyGram, and Walmart2Walmart, with losses totaling at least $4,312,585. Additionally, Parmar, working for Pathan and another individual, received and attempted to receive at least 91 packages of bulk cash sent by victims from several states, including Virginia, via FedEx, UPS, or USPS, totaling at least $1,593,591. Parmar also received at least 549 counterfeit identification documents sent to him by Pathan for his use in retrieving these packages and wires sent by victims.
In addition to Parmar’s guilty plea , Sumer Patel, 37, also pleaded guilty for his role in working for Pathan. As reflected in court documents accompanying his guilty plea, from October 2018 to March 2019, Patel retrieved over 250 individual wire transfers from 230 individual victims on behalf of Pathan. These wires totaled $219,520.98. Patel received these wires in the states of Virginia, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, and he deposited the funds as instructed by Pathan. While living in Chesterfield County, Virginia, Patel also received eight packages of cash sent by victims via FedEx. Four of the eight FedEx packages are known to have contained a total of $56,200 in cash.
Parmar and Patel are scheduled to be sentenced on June 18, 2021. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the conspiracy count, and Parmar faces an additional mandatory minimum sentence of two years on the aggravated identity theft count. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson accepted the plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Hood and Kaitlin G. Cooke are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:19-cr-160.