Husband and Wife Sentenced in Homeland Security Impersonation Scheme Involving 780 Victims and Over $1,000,000
Gregory J. Haanstad, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on December 14, 2017, Manish Patel (age: 26) was sentenced to 38 months imprisonment, and ordered to pay $1,101,901.61 in restitution for committing wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. Additionally, Nikita Shukla (age: 26) was sentenced to one year and one day imprisonment, and ordered to pay $149,531.28 in restitution for committing wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343.
According to the plea agreements and other court documents, unknown members of the scheme located in India called victims and made material misrepresentations to them, which caused the victims to send a MoneyGram, which is an electronic, interstate transfer of money to a specific location and to a specific, fictitious name. One misrepresentation that the callers made was that they were from the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and that the individuals (legal immigrants) had to pay for new passports or other items in order to avoid being sent to jail or deported. The caller would then instruct the victim to send a MoneyGram for a certain amount of money to a specific location and to a specific, fictitious name. The callers made numerous other misrepresentations to the many victims of this scam.
Manish Patel and others possessed fraudulent driver’s licenses that included the fictitious names of the MoneyGram recipients, but contained a photo of themselves. They used these fraudulent driver’s licenses to pick up MoneyGrams throughout the country. Patel frequently picked up several MoneyGrams a day from various locations using fraudulent driver’s licenses. For at least part of the scheme, Nikita Shukla drove Manish Patel throughout the country, including in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Patel and Shukla were allowed to keep a certain percentage of fraud proceeds, but then deposited the remaining cash into various bank accounts or handed the cash off to unknown individuals.
Using 134 different fraudulent identifications, Patel picked up $1,101,901.61 in fraud proceeds in 1,081 transactions, from 780 victims from September 28, 2016 through May 10, 2017. Shukla aided and abetted by driving Patel to pick up $149,531.28 in fraud proceeds from 100 victims. When they were arrested in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Patel and Shukla possessed 147 fraudulent driver’s licenses with fake names and Patel’s photo in them. Law enforcement also found $21,672 in cash in the car.
The case was investigated by the Greenfield Police Department, the United States Secret Service Financial Crimes Unit, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Digital Forensics and Analysis Unit. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Zachary Corey.
The public should be aware that neither the Department of Homeland Security nor the Internal Revenue Service (or any other federal government agency) will ever ask you to pay money to them via MoneyGram, RIA, Western Union, or especially iTunes or Steam (online gaming) gift cards.
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For Additional Information Contact:
Public Information Officer Dean Puschnig 414-297-1700