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United States v. Chirag Choksi, et al.

Eastern District of Virginia – Richmond Division

Criminal Case Number:  3:19-cr-00160-HEH

 

Remaining Defendants

Shehzadkhan Khandakhan Pathan

Pradipsinh Dharmendrasinh Parmar

Sumer Kantilal Patel

 

Summary of Offenses

Each of the charged defendants has pleaded guilty to offenses in connection with their participation in a conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.  The purpose of this conspiracy was to defraud victims of money through unsolicited telephone calls originating from a call center in India operated by defendant Shehzadkhan Khandakhan Pathan. 

Conspirators at the call center used automated, previously recorded calls, commonly referred to as “robocalls,” to initiate contact with victims.  These robocalls usually contained messages designed to create a sense of urgency with the call recipient, including threats of serious legal problems, usually criminal in nature, that required immediate action in order to avoid drastic consequences, including arrest and/or significant financial penalties.  Victims would be instructed to stay on the line or to call a particular number. 

Eventually victims would speak with one or more live persons, who used a variety of scripts incorporating different fraud schemes to persuade victims to send money, including the following scripts:

  • Conspirators impersonated an official with a federal law enforcement agency, such as the FBI or DEA, to convince victims that they were the subjects of criminal investigations, often involving the prospective seizure of all of the victims’ financial assets.  Conspirators told victims to ship packages of cash or preloaded payment cards to addresses purportedly used to receive official government mail as demonstrations of good faith in order to avoid immediate arrest and prosecution.  Conspirators promised victims that the money would be returned, sometimes with interest, if they were ultimately cleared of wrongdoing.
  • Conspirators also posed as employees of federal agencies, such as the Social Security Administration or the Internal Revenue Service, to convince victims to send packages of cash and/or preloaded payment cards, or to wire funds, in order to keep or restore their federal benefits or as payment for purported tax bills.
  • Conspirators also told victims that they had been approved for loans that required an earnest money or initial installment payment, which conspirators directed victims to send by wire transfer via Western Union, MoneyGram, or Walmart2Walmart.  The typical amount of the requested transfers ranged from several hundred dollars up to three thousand dollars.

 

Defendant Shehzadkhan Khandakhan Pathan operated the call center in India through which the robocalls and follow-up calls were made.  Pathan also recruited, supervised, and operated a network of “money mules” in the United States who would retrieve victim shipments and wire transfers and then send the bulk of those funds to conspirators, including Pathan, through deposits into various bank accounts and via informal money transmitters, known as hawalas.  These networks operated in several states, including Virginia, Minnesota, New Jersey, California, Indiana, Texas, and Illinois.  Victim cash shipments were often directed to addresses in these states.  Defendants Parmar and Patel worked for Pathan as money mules. 

 

Scheduled Court Hearings

Sentencing – Shehzadkhan Khandakhan Pathan – September 16, 2021 at 2:00pm

Sentencing – Pradipsinh Dharmendrasinh Parmar – September 20, 2021 at 1:30pm

Sentencing – Sumer Kantilal Patel – September 20, 2021 at 2:30pm

All hearings will occur before Senior United States District Judge Henry E. Hudson at the Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige, Jr. Federal Courthouse located at:

701 E. Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Note: Please check the Court’s updated protocol pertaining to COVID-19 for information on courthouse access and policies.  The Court’s updated COVID-19 guidance is available here: https://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/covid-19

 

Victim Impact Statements

Anyone who believes they have been harmed by the defendants’ criminal actions described above may submit a statement to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for consideration at sentencing.  An example of the format for such a statement can be located here: Victim Impact Statement.

Please include your full name, contact information, and documentation of any monetary loss that you suffered.  Victim initials will be used in all public filings to protect victim privacy. 

Please send all statements to the following address before September 2, 2021:

U.S. Attorney’s Office  Attn: Dutch Parcel
919 E. Main Street, Suite 1900
Richmond, VA 23219

Or email them to: USAVAE.DutchParcel@usdoj.gov

Statements received after September 2, 2021 will not be part of the materials transmitted to the Court in advance of the sentencing hearings. 

If further information is needed, you may be contacted by a Victim/Witness Specialist or FBI agent assigned to this case.  Anyone who contacts you will have access to the information that you previously submitted.

 

Court Documents

Second Superseding Indictment

Plea Agreement – Sumer Kantilal Patel

Statement of Facts – Sumer Kantilal Patel

Plea Agreement – Pradipsinh Dharmendrasinh Parmar

Statement of Facts – Pradipsinh Dharmendrasinh Parmar

Plea Agreement – Shehzadkhan Khandakhan Pathan

Statement of Facts – Shehzadkhan Khandakhan Pathan

 

Victim Information

Pursuant to the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3771, the Department of Justice is required to provide notice to individuals who may have been harmed as a direct result of the criminal offenses of which a defendant has been convicted. In this context, “harmed” is defined broadly and is not limited to monetary loss. This office uses the Victim Notification System (“VNS”) and other methods, including web pages and press releases, to ensure potential victims receive timely notice of public events related to a case. For more information, go to https://www.justice.gov/usao/resources/crime-victims-rights-ombudsman/victims-rights-act

A different federal law, the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (“MVRA”), 18 U.S.C. § 3663A, governs restitution in this case. Restitution is a determination by the judge that a victim is entitled to monetary compensation for losses suffered as a direct result of a crime for which a defendant has been convicted. It is not a guarantee of payment. Under the MVRA, if a defendant is convicted of a crime carrying restitution as a penalty, the judge at sentencing determines who is a victim and in what amount they are entitled to restitution. In cases involving property crimes, including the fraud offenses with which the defendants are charged, restitution may generally only be awarded for the value of the property lost by the victim as a direct result of a defendant’s crime of conviction less the value of any property returned to the victim. Victims may also be entitled to restitution for expenses incurred while participating in the criminal investigation or prosecution or traveling to court proceedings for the case, such as lost income, childcare, transportation, and other expenses. Restitution is generally not available for medical care, pain and suffering, emotional distress, or lost income caused by the defendant’s conduct, except in the limited context described above.

 

Press Releases

Press Release - February 22, 2021

Press Release - January 15, 2021

Press Release - November 6, 2020

Press Release - November 5, 2019

Updated August 5, 2021

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