Tracy man indicted for phony debt collection scam | Crime
Kirit Patel, 68, of Tracy, was charged by a federal grand jury with 21 counts of wire fraud and mail fraud for a fraudulent debt collection scheme, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
The indictment alleges that Patel participated in a scheme that involved coercing and harassing victims into paying online payday loans that did not exist. According to the indictment, members of the scheme, operating from call centers in India, would impersonate law enforcement officers and falsely claim that arrest warrants had been issued for the victims or that agencies of the United States government were pursuing the victims for nonpayment of debts. As part of the scheme, Patel established a front company named “Broadway Global Master” that was used to process the payments after victims relented and provided credit card numbers to avoid arrest over the nonexistent debts.
According to the indictment, the scheme involved more than two million phone calls, resulting in fraudulent transactions totaling more than $5 million. The indictment alleges that on 21 occasions between January 2011 and March 2012, Patel sent emails, wire transfers, and mail in furtherance of the scheme to defraud.
This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the United States Secret Service. It was referred to the Secret Service by the Federal Trade Commission. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew G. Morris is prosecuting the criminal case. In April 2012, the Federal Trade Commission filed a civil lawsuit against Patel and his two companies (2:12-cv-855-JAM) alleging violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The maximum criminal penalty for any individual count of wire fraud or mail fraud is 20 years in prison or a $250,000 fine, or both. The actual sentence, if convicted, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The charges are only allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Source: Department of Justice