Indian National Sentenced For Money Laundering Conspiracy Related To Government Impersonator Scam

Nov 29, 2023

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida

Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew has sentenced Jignesh Purshottambhai Vekaria (30, Tampa) to four years and three months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. As part of his sentence, the court also entered an order of forfeiture in the amount of $372,000, the proceeds of the offense. Vekaria had pleaded guilty on July 20, 2023.

According to court documents, India-based conspirators working in call centers placed calls to United States residents. The conspirators falsely and fraudulently identified themselves as federal law enforcement officers, such as Social Security Administration officials, FBI agents, or IRS officers. They provided “official” titles and/or “badge numbers,” and threatened their victims with imminent arrest, a lawsuit, and/or other economic consequences—usually based on alleged drug trafficking or money laundering crimes supposedly committed using the victims’ identities. The conspirators told victims, the majority of whom were older adults, that they could avoid these consequences by mailing checks or cash equivalents to conspirators in the United States.

From April 2018 through at least September 2018, Vekaria laundered money that had been extorted from these victims in the United States. Specifically, Vekaria acted as an intermediary between other U.S.-based conspirators who had a direct line of communication to the foreign call centers and the “runners” who received and cashed the victims’ checks. Vekaria’s intermediary role involved relaying information regarding the arrival of packages containing the victims’ checks to the runners, driving the runners to pick up the checks and cash them, and retrieving the fraudulently obtained funds from the runners. Once he retrieved the fraud proceeds, Vekaria provided them to his coconspirators and was paid for his role in obtaining the funds.

“Every day, countless Americans receive annoying spam calls from imposters pretending to be with the IRS. Today’s sentencing of Jignesh Vekaria serves as reassurance that IRS-CI agents will answer the call to bring justice to those who extort money and defraud hard-working citizens,” said Tara K. Reed, IRS-CI Acting Special Agent in Charge. “Putting dishonest fraudsters like Vekaria behind bars reinforces that the IRS is committed to ensuring the safety and trust of Americans throughout every community we serve.”

This case was investigated by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General (SSA/OIG), the Tampa Police Department, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Huyler.

Read more from the SSA: Read More