New York: The US government is taking aim at the “India-based call centre scam industry”, Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski has warned while announcing the extradition of an Indian citizen from Singapore allegedly involved in a multi-million dollar racket. Hitesh Madhubhai Patel, 42, who operated the HGlobal call centre in Ahmedabad, was extradited to face trial on charges relating to the scam that allegedly ripped off thousands of Americans of millions of dollars using people in call centres impersonating US government officials, the Justice Department said Friday.
Patel was arrested and produced on Friday in a federal court in Houston, Texas, where Magistrate Judge Peter Bray remanded him to custody, according to a court document. He is to appear in court again on Wednesday. “This extradition once again demonstrates the (Justice) Department’s unwavering commitment to disrupt and dismantle the India-based call centre scam industry and to work with our foreign partners to hold accountable those who perpetrate schemes that defraud our citizens,” Benczkowski said. He added that “Patel operated a call centre that allegedly preyed upon vulnerable U.S. citizens as part of a massive fraud scheme”.
After Patel flew from India to Singapore, he was arrested there on September 21, 2018, at the request of the US, and Singapore Law Minister K. Shanmugam issued a warrant on March 25 to hand him over to America, the Justice Department said. “This historic extradition should serve as notice to transnational criminal organisations of the lengths DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is willing to go to arrest those who would enrich themselves by extorting the most vulnerable in our society,” said David Green, the Special Agent in charge of the DHS Houston Field Office. He warned of global action against the owners, managers and employees of overseas call centres. Patel was charged in 2016 along with 55 people, most of them of Indian descent, and five companies in the alleged massive scam.
The fraud calls originating from India that are received by millions of Americans are hurting the country’s reputation as a hub for back office, tech support and call centre operations. (IANS)
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