New York– Two Indian men in Florida are facing fraud charges for conning a 69-year-old woman by swindling $80,000 from her over the phone, police said.
Parth Patel, 33, and Jayarami Kuruguntla, 25, were both arrested and booked into the Marion County Jail, the Ocala Police Department said.
The scam started on May 23, when the victim received a pop-up message on her iPad claiming her bank had been compromised and that she needed to call on a number.
She called the provided phone number and the scammer told her she was a suspect in a child pornography case.
The scammer posed as her financial institution and told the victim that a $30,000 purchase of child pornography was made in China and in order to resolve the issue, she needed to pay $30,000.
During this phone call, she was transferred to various illegitimate “departments” like her bank, the Federal Communication Commission, and the Department of Treasury, the police said.
Scared of being arrested, she withdrew the money from her bank and followed the scammer’s instructions by going to a Bitcoin ATM at a gas station to transfer the cash to a cryptocurrency account. But the scam did not end there.
The next day, the scammer contacted her again, demanding an additional $50,000. Again, she withdrew cash from her bank, and the scammers wanted her to transfer the money the same way as before. This time, she refused because she did not feel safe carrying that much money, so the phone scammer advised someone to come to her house to collect it.
Sometime later, an “Indian male” arrived at her residence in a car, an Ocala Police Department release stated.
She handed the money to the subject inside the vehicle but could only see the side of his face. When the suspect left, the victim called police to report the incident. She advised that she only gave the money because she was scared she would be killed if she didn’t.
She was told by the scammer that she would be contacted again the following day.
On May 25, detectives were in the area of the victim’s residence and were told around 10 am that the scammer had called back. This time, she was again requested to withdraw $50,000 and that someone would pick the money up from her residence.
Eventually, a car arrived and parked in front of the victim’s residence and the detectives conducted a traffic stop.
The occupants of the car were identified as Kuruguntla and Patel, and were taken to the Ocala Police Department.
During questioning, Kuruguntla claimed he didn’t know the purpose of their trip to Ocala and denied any knowledge of picking up money or a package.
Patel initially lied, stating they came to hang out and have dinner but later stated they were supposed to pick up a package at the victim’s address for a friend in India.
Patel was charged with Organized Fraud ($50,000 or more) and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
Kuruguntla was charged with Larceny ($50,000 or more from someone 65-years-old or older) and Fraud-Swindle to obtain property $50,000 or more.
Detectives requested that both be held in jail with no bond because they may have access to large sums of money due to scamming people, and both could be a flight risk.
Despite the requests, they have bonded out of jail. (IANS)