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TAMPA, Fla. – A Tampa man was sentenced Thursday in a U.S. District Court to 72 months in prison and a $25,000 fine for his involvement in a bank fraud conspiracy.
According to court documents, Jaykumar Patel, 33, worked in Florida moving criminal proceeds for an India-based fraud conspiracy targeting elderly, vulnerable victims in the United States.
“Those who prey on the most susceptible victims through these kind of scare tactics and phone scams must be punished to the full extent of the law,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe. “Defendants both in the United States and overseas need to know that we will protect and defend vulnerable Americans.”
“Elder fraud is a growing problem as the country’s population gets older,” said FBI Springfield Field Office Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. “Illinois ranks ninth highest in total number of victims over age 60, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center 2021 Elder Fraud Report. The FBI takes elder fraud very seriously and, along with our law enforcement partners, will work to hold accountable those who take advantage of the isolation and vulnerability that often surrounds the elderly.”
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In June 2021, the Alton, Illinois Police Department filed a report when a resident received a phone call from an individual who claimed to be a member of law enforcement warning her that her identity had been stolen.
The caller demanded the victim to send $29,000 to an address in Florida so he could help rectify the situation. The story was false: the victim’s identity had not been stolen, the caller was not law enforcement, and no legitimate law enforcement officer would ever demand money from a victim. But the victim didn’t know that, so she sent the money. A few days later, Patel turned up to pick up the package in Florida and was arrested.
Further investigation showed the fraud on the Alton victim was a small part of the criminal scheme. There were several other victims across the United States who were bullied and frightened out of their hard-earned money. In just a few weeks in 2021, Mr. Patel picked up or intended to pick up packages sent by victims containing more than $481,000.
“Individuals should use caution when speaking with strangers on the phone, especially if a caller is asking the person to send money. Legitimate law enforcement will never try to blackmail victims or request residents to send cash by mail,” commented the DOJ.