Jeel Patel of South Carolina sentenced for elder fraud in Virginia
A Duncan, South Carolina man of Indian origin was sentenced recently to 51 months in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
According to court documents, from around February 2020 through June 2020, Jeel Patel, 22, was part of an international fraud scheme originating from call centers in India that disproportionately targeted elders. He was sentenced Feb. 14, 2023, by U.S. Senior District Judge Henry E. Hudson.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said the call centers would initially contact victims using automated robocalls designed to create a sense of urgency with the recipients.
After making initial contact with victims, conspirators known as closers would impersonate government officials such as FBI or DEA agents who “would trick and coerce victims into wiring funds to bank accounts controlled by the conspiracy, or shipping parcels of cash to addresses to which conspirators had access.”
Couriers working for the conspiracy would retrieve the victims’ stolen money, save a portion for themselves, and forward the remainder to the call center operators in India, the press release said.
Jeel Patel was one such courier, working for a defendant previously prosecuted by the Eastern District of Virginia (Case No. 3:21-cr-47) named Bhavinkumar “Sunny” Patel. On April 8, 2022, “Sunny” Patel, 28, of Richmond, Virginia, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Sunny Patel operated a cell of couriers in several states that was responsible for losses exceeding $3 million to more than 120 victims, the Justice Department said.
During the brief, four-month period that Jeel Patel worked for Sunny Patel, the defendant retrieved or attempted to retrieve 14 packages from 10 different victims, with total actual losses of $485,020. Jeel Patel also participated in repeated home pickups during which he traveled to the residences of two different 80-year-old victims in Michigan and South Carolina, and under the guise of being a DEA official took the money directly from the victims, the press release said.
According to the Justice Department, elder abuse affects at least 10 percent of older Americans every year.