Kirit Patel, 68, of Tracy, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges, which stem from an operation that authorities allege targeted hundreds of thousands of cash-strapped Americans with millions of coercive and threatening phone calls from boiler rooms in India.
Patel has proclaimed his innocence through an attorney, and refused to answer questions when “Nightline” tracked him to his son’s home in Texas in June.
… Law enforcement officials told ABC News the phone calls targeted struggling Americans — especially those who had gone online to apply for payday loans. Armed with personal information from those pilfered loan applications, the threatening callers, who claim to be debt collectors poised to initiate legal action, managed to pry loose millions of dollars from their victims — even when the victims never owed money in the first place.
“This is what we call a phantom debt collection scam,” said Jon Leibowitz, the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. “It’s a very pernicious and innovative new fraud.”
Frightened Americans have paid at least $4 million in fake debt they do not owe. The money has gone to India. Threatening calls from people pretending to be police officers are how it starts. The people calling have your personal information they obtained from the Internet, even the last 4 digits of your social security number. But it’s all a scam. There is no debtors prison in the United States of America.
Ask for a full name, the name of the business or collection agency they represent, and a phone number so you can call them back. Don’t reveal any more personal information. If they claim to be an officer, ask for a badge number and the phone number for the station where they work. Search for the company name along with the word “scam” in Google and see what you get. If you like, you can play along and tell them you are sending the money. Get the address and record all the calls for the police. If you don’t have to worry about the phone bill, tell them to hold on just a minute, that you are getting your checkbook. Then just put the phone down and keep doing what you are doing. Tell them you have a friend who is a cop and ask for their Inter-agency CID. Tell them every real cop knows his Inter-agency CID. There is no such thing, but they won’t know that. ;- )