RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Two Indian nationals pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy charges relating to their involvement in an overseas-based robocalls scheme that included operations out of Chesterfield County, defrauding thousands of victims out of millions of dollars.
According to court documents, Pradipsinh Parmar, 41, collected money on behalf of the robocall conspiracy that victims had sent either by a parcel delivery carrier or through a wire service. Upon receiving the victims’ money, Parmar deposited these funds into bank accounts as directed by Shehzadkhan Pathan, 39, who federal officials say was the conspiracy leader. He previously pleaded guilty on January 15.
“Parmar crisscrossed the United States to collect nearly $6 million that was stolen from more than 4,000 victims in an international robocalls scam,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) Raj Parekh said. “By falsely impersonating representatives of the FBI, DEA, Social Security Administration, and other government agencies, members of this conspiracy preyed on thousands of unsuspecting victims, many of whom were elderly. This Office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to combat international financial fraud and elder abuse schemes.”
According to a release, Pathan operated a call center in Ahmedabad, India, from which automated robocalls were made to victims in the U.S. After establishing contact with victims through these automated calls, Pathan and other “closers” at his call center would trick victims into sending bulk cash through physical shipments and electronic money transfers.
As part of his guilty plea, Parmar admitted that over a two-year period from March 2017 to April 2019, he traveled to 30 states and collected at least 4,358 wire transfers sent by victims via Western Union, MoneyGram, and Walmart2Walmart, with losses totaling at least $4,312,585. Additionally, Parmar, working for Pathan and another individual, received and attempted to receive at least 91 packages of bulk cash sent by victims from several states, including Virginia, via FedEx, UPS, or USPS, totaling at least $1,593,591. Officials say Parmar also received at least 549 counterfeit identification documents sent to him by Pathan for his use in retrieving these packages and wires sent by victims.
In addition to Parmar’s guilty plea, Sumer Patel, 37, also pleaded guilty for his role in working for Pathan. From October 2018 to March 2019, he said he retrieved more than 250 individual wire transfers from 230 victims on behalf of Pathan. These wires totaled $219,520.98. Patel received these wires in the states of Virginia, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, and he deposited the funds as instructed by Pathan. While living in Chesterfield County, Virginia, Patel also received eight packages of cash sent by victims via FedEx.
According to a release, Parmar and Patel are scheduled to be sentenced on June 18, 2021. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the conspiracy count, and Parmar faces an additional mandatory minimum sentence of two years on the aggravated identity theft count.