LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Riverside County man faces sentencing today for his role in an international conspiracy where he helped collect more than $500,000 in cash conned out of elderly victims by others pretending to be federal agents threatening the victims with arrest on bogus warrants.
Anuj ``Mike'' Patel, 32, of Lake Elsinore, pleaded guilty in March 2021 to one federal count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
From April 2019 to March 2020, Patel participated in a scheme that deceived elderly victims out of their money. Other members of the conspiracy, some of whom are believed to be in India, telephoned victims and pretended to be government employees or law enforcement officers.
Using several false pretenses -- including phony badge numbers and using spoofed government telephone numbers -- the co-conspirators convinced the victims, most of whom were elderly, that their identities or assets were in trouble.
Some victims were told that their Social Security numbers had been linked to crimes and that there were warrants issued by courts authorizing the victims' arrests. The co-conspirators further told the victims that to clear the warrants, they should withdraw their savings and send cash by mail to other members of the scheme.
The victims were ordered to send the parcels through shipping companies that allowed parcel recipients to pick up parcels so long as the recipients had identification matching the names listed on the parcel as the addressees.
The addresses the defendants gave primarily were at locations in Riverside County, but also in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, according to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Patel admitted he used tracking numbers to monitor the victims' parcels, and communicated with couriers who used fraudulent identification documents matching the names listed on the parcels as addresses. Patel also admitted to receiving or intending to receive 18 packages sent by victims.
The total loss in the case was $541,420 and Patel admitted the scheme involved at least 10 victims, many of whom he knew were vulnerable people.
Two other couriers from Lake Elsinore also pleaded guilty in the case. Elmer Barrios, 37, is scheduled to be sentenced in May. His cousin, William Barrios, 37, was sentenced last year to time already served and handed over to U.S. Marshals to be deported, court papers show.