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Thursday, October 8, 2015
Two Philadelphia Men Admit Roles In $5.8 Million Reloadable Debit Card Extortion Scam
The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
CAMDEN, NJ—Two Philadelphia men today admitted their roles in a conspiracy to extort victims to load prepaid debit cards with funds that were stolen as part of the scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Alpeshkumar Patel, 31, and Vijaykumar Patel, 40, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb to separate informations charging them with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Alpeshkumar Patel and Vijaykumar Patel admitted that from September 2013 through March 2014, they were part of a conspiracy to steal money using reloadable debit cards. First, conspirators would purchase reloadable Green Dot Cards, and register them in names other than their own. The conspirators contacted victims by phone and used threats or deceit to induce them to put money on MoneyPak cards, which are used along with assigned PIN codes to add funds to Green Dot Cards.
Alpeshkumar Patel and Vijaykumar Patel admitted that they obtained the Green Dot Cards and used them to purchase money orders. Afterwards, they deposited the funds into bank accounts associated with the scheme.
Phone numbers and IP addresses connected with the conspiracy were tied to approximately 2,500 Green Dot Cards that were funded in excess of $5.8 million.
The conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge to which Alpeshkumar Patel and Vijaykumar Patel pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for Jan. 15, 2016.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents, detectives and investigators assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, under the direction of FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark, and FBI Special Agent in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. in Philadelphia, as well as special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s pleas.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime. He has written extensively about organized crime, street crime, sex crime, cyber crime, drug crime, white collar crime, crime fiction, crime prevention, espionage and terrorism. His 'On Crime' column appears weekly in the Washington Times. He is also a regular contributor to Counterterrorism magazine. His work has also appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and other newspapers, magazines and online publications. As a writer, he has attended police academy training, gone out on patrol with police officers, accompanied detectives as they worked cases, accompanied narcotics officers on drug raids, observed criminal court proceedings and visited jails and prisons. He has covered street riots, mob wars and murder investigations. Paul Davis' online "Crime Beat" column offers his Q&As with cops, crooks, crime writers and others. Paul Davis has been a student of crime since he was a 12-year-old aspiring writer growing up in South Philadelphia. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 17 in 1970 and served on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War. He also served two years on the Navy harbor tugboat USS Saugus at the U.S. nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland. Following his Navy service, he performed security work as a Defense Department civilian and he later became a full-time writer. Paul Davis' On Crime and Crime Beat columns, crime fiction and magazine and newspaper pieces can be read on this website. His full bio can be read by clicking on the above photo.