RICHMOND, Va. – A Duncan, South Carolina man was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
According to court documents, from around February 2020 through June 2020, Jeel Patel, 22, was part of an international fraud scheme originating from call centers in India that disproportionately targeted elders. These call centers would initially contact victims using automated robocalls designed to create a sense of urgency with the recipients. After making initial contact with victims, conspirators known as closers would impersonate government officials such as FBI or DEA agents. These closers would trick and coerce victims into wiring funds to bank accounts controlled by the conspiracy, or shipping parcels of cash to addresses to which conspirators had access. Couriers working for the conspiracy would retrieve the victims’ stolen money, save a portion for themselves, and forward the remainder to the call center operators in India.
Jeel Patel was one such courier, working for a defendant previously prosecuted by the Eastern District of Virginia (Case No. 3:21-cr-47) named Bhavinkumar “Sunny” Patel. Sunny Patel, 28, of Richmond, operated a cell of couriers in several states that was responsible for losses exceeding $3 million to more than 120 victims. On April 8, 2022, “Sunny” Patel was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
During the brief, four-month period that Jeel Patel worked for Sunny Patel, the defendant retrieved or attempted to retrieve 14 packages from 10 different victims, with total actual losses of $485,020. Jeel Patel also participated in repeated home pickups during which he traveled to the residences of two different 80-year-old victims located in Michigan and South Carolina, and under the guise of being a DEA official took the money directly from the victims.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. Senior District Judge Henry E. Hudson.
The Union County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina provided significant assistance on this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Hood and Kaitlin Cooke prosecuted the case.
Combatting elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors is a key priority of the Department of Justice. Elder abuse is an intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult. It is a term used to describe five subtypes of elder abuse: physical abuse, financial fraud, scams and exploitation, caregiver neglect and abandonment, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse. Elder abuse is a serious crime against some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, affecting at least 10 percent of older Americans every year. Together with our federal, state, local, and tribal partners, the Department of Justice is steadfastly committed to combatting all forms of elder abuse and financial exploitation through enforcement actions, training and resources, research, victim services, and public awareness. This holistic and robust response demonstrates the Department’s unwavering dedication to fighting for justice for older Americans.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:22-cr-92.