The indictment in United States District Court, Eastern California alleges that 68-year-old Kirit Patel participated in a scheme that involved coercing and harassing victims into paying online payday loans that did not exist, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner stated in a press release on Thursday, Aug. 23.
Other 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 U.S. agencies were pursuing them for nonpayment of debts.
Patel had reportedly established a front company named Broadway Global Masters that was used to process the payments after victims provided credit card information to avoid arrest, Wagner stated in the release.
According to the indictment, the scheme involved more than two million phone calls that resulted in fraudulent transactions totaling more than $5 million. Authorities claim Patel had sent emails, wire transfers and mail to the victims on 21 occasions between January 2011 and March 2012 to further intimidate.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Morris is scheduled to prosecute the case. If Patel is found guilty, he faces the possibility of 20 years in prison for each of the 21 count of wire fraud or mail fraud, a $250,000 fine, or a combination of both.
A civil lawsuit was filed in April by the Federal Trade Commission against Patel that alleges he had committed violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, according to Wagner.
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