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A federal grand jury has charged a Tracy, California-based man with 21 criminal counts of wire fraud and mail fraud for a fake debt collection scheme.  The Federal Trade Commission previously filed civil charges against the man, Kirit Patel, and two companies he controlled, Broadway Global Master Inc. and In-Arabia Solutions Inc.

The grand jury indictment alleges that on 21 occasions between January 2011 and March 2012, Patel sent e-mails, wire transfers, and mail as part of his efforts to defraud consumers.

The criminal case, announced last week by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California Benjamin B. Wagner, followed a civil lawsuit filed by the FTC in April 2012.  The FTC alleged that Patel and his two companies fraudulently collected more than $5.2 million from consumers for debts that they either didn't owe to the defendants or didn't owe at all, as part of a scheme that involved more than 2.7 million phone calls to at least 600,000 phone numbers.  The agency obtained a court order to halt the scheme pending trial.  Many of the individuals targeted by the scam were strapped for cash and thought the money they were paying would be applied to loans they owed, according to the FTC.

The FTC’s Criminal Liaison Unit, a special branch set up to ensure that appropriate consumer scams are referred for criminal prosecution, referred the case to the Department of Justice and the Secret Service.  The FTC would like to thank both agencies for following up on this matter.  

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

(FYI CLU Broadway Global Masters)

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