Scammers used Kentucky addresses as drop points for money from victims

Scammers pretending to be federal officials used addresses in Kentucky to help swindle hundreds of thousands of dollars from victims, a federal grand jury has charged.

The grand jury indicted Satishkumar Rameshchandra Patel on one charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, punishable by up to 20 years in prison if he’s convicted.

Patel was arrested in northern Illinois. Court documents available online don’t make clear where he lives.

The indictment charges that Patel and others defrauded victims across the U.S. by posing as officials from agencies such as the FBI, the Social Security Administration or the IRS.

People involved in the scheme used various stories, such as that money had been put into a person’s account by mistake and needed to be refunded, or that the victim faced an arrest warrant because his or her Social Security number had been used in a drug crime, according to the indictment.

The scammers allegedly had victims send money or prepaid debit cards by way of parcel services such as FedEx.

The indictment cited three examples.

In one, someone in the conspiracy called an older woman in Texas in August 2021 and said she had been overpaid for a refund by $48,000.

The woman was told to return the money to certain person at an address in Pulaski County that was a Dollar General store, the indictment said.

Telephone records confirm co-conspirators in India used the same number to call the woman and to track the package she sent, according to the indictment.

In another case, a scammer allegedly called a separate woman in Texas and told her that her identity had been stolen and the information was used to bring drugs into the country.

Based on instructions from the caller, the woman withdrew $12,000 and sent it to a person at an address in London, according to the indictment.

Again, phone records show the number someone in India used to call the woman was the same number used to call a FedEx store in London and track delivery of the package she sent, the indictment said.

The third example cited in the indictment involved an older woman in California.

Someone induced her to send a total of $380,000 in several payments by telling her she faced arrest because her Social Security number had been associated with a crime, according to the indictment.

Patel allegedly picked up a package from the woman delivered to a “Martin Smith” at the address of an apartment building in Itasca, Illinois, where Patel didn’t live. The package contained $50,000, the indictment said.

The indictment alleges that on “numerous other occasions,” Patel picked up packages with money from victims delivered to other names and addresses where he didn’t live.

Parts of the indictment against Patel are blacked out, which indicates at least one other person has been charged but may not yet be in custody.

Patel is being held in the Laurel County Correctional Center pending an initial court appearance scheduled for Monday in Lexington.

Agencies including the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Department of Justice have resources on how to recognize scams and protect older people.

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