SCRANTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Hiteshkumar Patel, age 52, a resident of South Abington Township, Pennsylvania, was sentenced on August 9, 2018, by United States District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani to serve 234 months in prison on the charges of conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.
According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Patel pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft in November 2017. The investigation revealed that beginning in or about August 2015 through May 2016, Patel was involved in a multi-faceted international conspiracy and devised a scheme to defraud that included individuals who falsely represented themselves as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents, as well as individuals associated with an illegitimate online loan business.
Individuals who falsely claimed to represent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) contacted unsuspecting victims throughout the United States. The victims were told that they had to immediately make a monetary payment in order to satisfy outstanding IRS tax debt and/or IRS penalty fees. Victims were told that there would be severe consequences if they did not immediately comply, such as federal agents knocking on their door, notification to employers, garnishment of wages, and even arrest.
Victims of the online loan fraud scheme were instructed that in order to receive the proceeds of their online loan application, they had to first make monetary payments associated with the processing of the application, such as fees for expediting the loan and insurance. Some victims of the loan fraud scheme were also told that outstanding IRS debt had to be satisfied before their loan application could be processed.
All of the victims were instructed to remit monetary payments to a number of different individuals via the U.S. Mail, Western Union, MoneyGram, and/or RIA (Walmart to Walmart). The monetary payments were received by Patel, or by members of the unlawful telemarketing organization and unindicted co-conspirators. The investigation identified 634 individuals directly tied to Patel’s criminal conduct from across the country. The victims collectively sustained a loss of nearly $900,000.
At sentencing, Judge Mariani stated that “Telephone schemes and online fraud have become a scourge in our society.” He described Patel’s crimes as “reprehensible” and “lacking in human decency.”
In addition to the prison term, Judge Mariani ordered that Patel be supervised by a probation officer for three years following his release from prison and further ordered that Patel pay restitution in the amount of $896,112.33.
Patel was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 20, 2017, after an investigation jointly conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Department of the Treasury – Treasury Inspector General, and the South Abington and Scranton Police Departments. Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski prosecuted the case.