An Indian immigrant from Pennsylvania who ran an India-based phone scam that fooled Americans into thinking the Internal Revenue Service was coming after them was sentenced to 14 years in jail on Wednesday.
Sahil Patel, 36, sobbed and apologized to his many victims before U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein sentenced him in Manhattan. Patel was convicted of conspiring to extort, to impersonate government officials, and to commit wire fraud.
“The nature of this crime robbed people of their identities and their money in a way that causes people to feel they have been almost destroyed,” the judge said from the bench.
Along with the hefty sentence, Patel was ordered to pay $1 million for the illegal scam that lasted from December 2011 to his arrest in December of 2013.
Patel’s scam was set up for phone bank operators in India to impersonate FBI or IRS officials and even featured software to make caller IDs appear as if they were coming from the FBI or the Manhattan prosecutor’s offices.
IRS officials say that the Patel scheme was the biggest IRS scam they have prosecuted, with nearly 4,000 people claiming to have lost money in the scam. Victims report typical losses of $5,000 to $7,000 each.
The scam stole several million from Americans in nearly every state, with citizens in California topping them all at about $3.8 million lost.
Prosecutors also charged that he exploited vulnerable women in India who were desperate for a job and money by convincing them to participate in his criminal operations.
“In particular, Patel held the grossly misogynistic view that women, above all other recruits, were pliable, easily manipulated, greedy, and easy to control. Perhaps most disturbingly, Patel applied that view to his own sister,” prosecutors charged..
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