BERGEN COUNTY, NJ (TIP): A 25-year-old Indian woman in the US has been sentenced to three years’ probation for money laundering and faces imminent deportation for her role in a $170,000 phone scam in which thousands of dollars were netted from unwitting victims from 32 states.
Nikita Patel worked as a “runner”, picking up money sent by people. She fooled people into believing that they owed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) back taxes, according to authorities.
She would take a cut for herself and then send the rest to India, where the fraudulent phone calls originated, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Brian Lynch said on Friday.
Nikita Patel was arrested with another person, Akash S Patel last September. She was sentenced to three years’ probation on money laundering charge on Friday by Superior Court Judge Susan J Steele who said that frauds like the one perpetrated by her seem to be an endemic problem.
Local prosecutors said the scam involved 72 people in 32 states.
Federal government has placed a deportation detainer on her. As a result, she continues to be in jail.
The Patels were originally charged with conspiracy to commit theft by deception, a second-degree crime. Nikita Patel later pleaded guilty to third-degree money laundering, a media report said.
Akash Patel, 33, pleaded guilty to a third-degree theft charge in November. He was also sentenced to probation, according to court records. Lynch said yesterday that Akash Patel, who is an Indian citizen, has since been deported.