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IRS Phone Scam 'Runner' Sentenced

By kcora on
Leonia Elizabeth Union Township (Union)

A woman was sentenced today to probation for her role in an IRS scam.

The investigation started in Sept. 2  after a Lexington, Ky., resident received a call informing him that he owed the Internal Revenue Service $1,400 and that he would be jailed if he did not pay. The victim was instructed to send a MoneyGram to "Vincent Arora" at an address on Broad Avenue, a CVS drug store.

Detectives were able to obtain video surveillance video that provided police still photos of suspect.

Detectives contacted MoneyGram who informed that as many as 30 transactions has been conducted using the name Vincent Arora in various locations throughout the state.

Detectives were alerted of a transaction at a Walmart in Watchung but the transaction had already been complete and police missed the suspect by minutes.

Surveillance video confirmed the suspect was the same person from the Sept. 2 incident.

As tracking continued, MoneyGram this time alert detectives of a transaction, at a CVS in Elizabeth. Upon arrival, store manager informed detective that the transaction had been completed. This time however, officials obtained a license plate number and a description of the suspects.

Elizabeth police got involved locating the vehicle at a CVS in Union, where yet another transaction occurred.

At that location, police held Akash Patel and Nikita Patel who were taken into custody and transported to Leonia.

A search of the vehicle led to the seizure of MoneyGram transaction receipts and more than $9,100 in cash. According police, Nikita Patel told them there were documents and cash at the apartment she shared witha he second suspect Akash Patel, 32.

Both were originally charged with conspiracy to commit theft by deception, a second-degree crime. However, Nikita Patel later pleaded guilty to third-degree money laundering. Akash Patel pleaded guilty to a third-degree theft charge in November. He was also sentenced to probation and has since been deported.

Patel a "runner,” was in charge of picking up money sent by people tricked into believing they owed the IRS back taxes. Patel received a cut for herself and then send the rest to India, where the fraudulent phone calls originated.

According to officials, the scam defrauded approximately 70 people in 32 states.