COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A 29-year-old man was sentenced to prison on Monday for conspiring with others to trick victims into mailing more than $1 million by pretending to be federal government officials.
Sagarkumar Patel, 29, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in U.S. District Court Monday to 36 months in prison for multiple counts of mail fraud and mail fraud conspiracy, according to U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker for the Southern District of Ohio. Patel was also ordered to pay more than $1.1 million in restitution.
Parker was charged in June 2021 after Dublin officers caught Patel receiving packages. He pleaded guilty in November 2021, Parker said.
“I listened to three of the victims who participated in today’s sentencing hearing,” said Parker. “As each of them made clear, the defendant’s illegal actions nearly wiped out all of their life savings.”
Co-conspirators would call victims claiming to be law enforcement officers or attorneys working with the government and threaten victims by falsely informing them that they had active warrants for their arrest, according to court documents. They would then tell the victims their bank accounts and Social Security numbers had been compromised. To avoid losing money, co-conspirators would tell the victims they needed to withdraw large sums of cash from their bank.
Victims were instructed to insert the cash between the pages of magazines, then place each magazine in a bubble-wrapped envelope before packing them into a cardboard box, Parker said. The boxes were mailed to Walgreens and other mail depositories to aliases used by Patel.
Dublin police officers intercepted a package containing $22,000 mailed to Patel at the Walgreens on Hospital Drive in June 2021. Officers searched Patel’s car and found another package with $25,000, and several plastic bags with $30,000, $31,500 and $22,500.