Call center scammer who extorted millions from U.S. citizens sentenced to 7 years in prison

An Indian man was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for extorting U.S. citizens out of millions of dollars during his time operating a fraudulent call center in India.

Sharvil Patel, 23, was given the sentence by a federal judge in Tampa and fined $80,000.

According to NDTV, Patel and his co-conspirators pretended to be tax officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), where they claimed their victims owned taxes that hadn’t been paid.

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To make the victims comply with their demands, court documents say they allegedly threatened U.S. residents with fraudulent arrest claims and when it came time to collect the money, they forced victims to buy prepaid cash cards, where they sent their own employees to collect. Members of the call center fraud then opened bank accounts where they deposed the payments and eventually turned the money over after deducting a portion for their commission.

This arrest is part of a larger U.S. crackdown on Indian call center fraud, which over the last six years has extorted millions of dollars from American citizens.

According to Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, since 2013 more than 15,000 victims have suffered more than $75 million in losses to telephone scammers impersonating tax officials.

“Over the last several years, American taxpayers have been subjected to unprecedented attempts to fraudulently obtain money by individuals impersonating Internal Revenue Service employees,” said George. “Victimizing taxpayers by impersonating IRS employees is a serious crime."

Patel is the fourth Indian to be sentenced in relation to these types of scams within the last two months.

Two other members of Patel's ring were sentenced last month. Nishitkumar Patel, 31, was given eight years and nine months in prison and Hemalkumar Shah, 27, was sentenced to eight and a half years.

It's not clear if Nishitkumar and Hemalkumar helped to implicate Sharvil, who had been awaiting sentencing after the three were federally indicted in November of last year.

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When the three were arrested last November, officers seized $50,000 in cash, hundreds of bank and wire transfer receipts and 20 electronic devices from the home of Nishitkumar.

Last month, another Indian, Mehboob Mansurali Charania, received a 16-month sentence in Atlanta, and was ordered to pay his victims back $200,000.

In October of last year, 21 people were sentenced between four to 13 years in prison and in October of 2016, 56 people from five Indian companies were charged in a Texas Federal court for participating in a similar scam.