The people who were duped were instructed to pay using prepaid cards or to wire money. The call centers then turned to a network of “runners” based in the United States, who typically used the cards to purchase money orders that were deposited into bank accounts.
Runners also redeemed funds from wire transfers with false names and identification documents, or exploited the funds through gift cards and Apple iTunes cards, it said. The runners would earn a fee or a percentage, it said.
“This type of fraud is sickening,” said Ryan Patrick, the United States attorney for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston, where last week’s sentences were imposed.
Twenty-two of the defendants sentenced last week were told to pay restitution of about $8.9 million to victims who could be identified, the department said. The sentences also included judgments of over $72.9 million.
The department named all 24 defendants, but it highlighted the role of the three men with the longest sentences.
Miteshkumar Patel, 42, of Illinois, was responsible for laundering between $9.5 and $25 million in his role overseeing a Chicago-based network of runners, the department said. He was given a 20-year sentence.
Hardik Patel, 31, of Illinois, was given more than 15 years in prison for wire fraud conspiracy as a coordinator with call centers in India, laundering between $3.5 million and $9.5 million, it said.
In Texas, Sunny Joshi, 47, was sentenced to about 12 years in prison for money laundering of between $3.5 million and $9.5 million, the statement said.