Indian national extradited to US over $312m scam

A 42-year-old Indian national was extradited to the United States on Thursday for his role in a call centre scam, which targeted more than 15,000 people in the US. Victims were cheated of at least US$230 million (S$312 million).

In a joint statement yesterday, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) and the Singapore Police Force said that Singapore received a request from the US government for the extradition of Hitesh Madhubhai Patel last September.

Suspected to be part of an India-based transnational criminal organisation, Patel has been indicted in the US.

He allegedly carried out a large, sophisticated and highly successful India-based telephone impersonation fraud and money laundering scheme from January 2012 to October 2016.

Twenty-four of Patel's co-conspirators have been sentenced in the US to up to 20 years in jail, in what has been described as the first large-scale, multi-jurisdiction prosecution targeting the India call centre scam industry.

Officers from the Commercial Affairs Department arrested Patel on Sept 21 last year in consultation with the AGC and pursuant to a warrant issued by the State Courts of Singapore.

The State Courts held that Patel was liable to be extradited to the US to stand trial for general conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.

 
 
 

The US Department of Justice said in a statement on Friday that Patel was expected to be arraigned in a federal court in Houston on the same day.

He allegedly operated the HGlobal call centre conglomerate and participated in a complex scheme involving a network of call centres based in Ahmedabad, India.

The statement from the US Justice Department said India-based conspirators purportedly used information obtained from data brokers and other sources to find potential victims.

They impersonated officials from the Internal Revenue Service or US Citizenship and Immigration services, and threatened victims with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay taxes or penalties to the government.

The call centres used a network of US-based conspirators to liquidate and launder extorted funds through stored value cards or wire transfers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 21, 2019, with the headline 'Indian national extradited to US over $312m scam'. Print Edition | Subscribe