SC man sentenced to 51 years for part in international elder fraud scheme

Officials said the total actual losses equaled $485,020
Photo depicting jail cell bars
Photo depicting jail cell bars(MGN Online / Mitchell Haindfield / CC BY 2.0)
Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 12:31 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2023 at 12:32 PM EST
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RICHMOND, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Virginia announced that a Duncan man was sentenced to prison for his part in an international elder fraud scheme.

According to the department, 22-year-old Jeel Patel was part of the scheme from February 2020 to June 2020. The schemes originated from call centers in India that disproportionately targeted elders.

Officials said the call centers would initially contact victims using automated robocalls designed to create a sense of urgency with the recipients.

According to the attorney’s office, After making initial contact with victims, conspirators, known as closers, would impersonate government officials such as FBI or DEA agents. The closers 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, according to the department.

Patel was one of the couriers, working for a defendant 28-year-old Bhavinkumar “Sunny” Patel, previously prosecuted by the Eastern District of Virginia. Sunny Patel operated a cell of couriers in several states that were responsible for losses exceeding $3 million to more than 120 victims.

Officials said during the four-month period that Jeel Patel worked for Sunny Patel, he 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, traveling to the homes of two different 80-year-old victims, one in Michigan and the other in South Carolina, under the guise of being a DEA official took the money directly from the victims, according to officials.

He was sentenced to 51 years in prison conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

The Union County Sheriff’s Office assisted with this case.