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Illinois man accused of scamming older women

STREET. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo and MADISON COUNTY, Ill. – A suburban Chicago man has been accused of attacking elderly women in University City, Missouri, and Edwardsville, Illinois, and defrauding them of tens of thousands of dollars in cash or gold.

The first such incident took place in Edwardsville on March 9.

The 73-year-old victim told local police that she had received information that her identity had been stolen and that federal authorities were investigating her. She was ordered to use her retirement funds to purchase Krugerrand gold coins.

The victim complied and purchased approximately $148,000 worth of gold. She was informed that he would transfer the coins to a person who would soon arrive at her residence. The person arrived at the victim’s house, took the coins and left.

According to the University City Police Department’s probable cause statement, the following scam occurred on March 19.

The 76-year-old victim told police he was using his desktop computer when he received an alert telling him his information had been compromised. The alert directed her to contact Microsoft and provided her with a phone number.

The victim called the number and provided some personal information, including the last four digits of his Social Security number. She was allegedly transferred to a representative of the United States Federal Trade Commission.

The man on the other end of the line told the victim that her identity had been compromised and she was being used in the production of pornography.

Police say the person on the phone told the victim that the government could freeze her bank accounts while she paid to get her identity back. The man asked for $100,000, but the victim said she couldn’t afford it and offered to pay $50,000.

The man agreed and the victim arranged to withdraw $50,000 in cash from his bank account. The man told the victim to separate the money into $10,000 bundles and place them in a bag. He said a vehicle would arrive later to collect the money.

The victim said a dark-colored Mercedes-Benz sedan pulled up in front of his home. She got out and handed the money to the driver.

Days later, the victim received a phone call from the man claiming to be from the FTC. He asked for an additional $50,000 from the victim.

The victim became suspicious and contacted police.

Several weeks after that phone call, Wisconsin police arrested Ligneshkumar H. Patel, 37, for allegedly running a similar scam. Police say Patel admitted to running scams in the St. Louis area and Edwardsville.

The vehicle Patel was driving matched the description of the car seen in the University City scam. Additionally, license plate readers observed Patel’s vehicle driving west on Interstate 270 in Granite City the night the victim handed over his money. Data from Patel’s cell phone showed that he was in the area of ​​the victim’s residence at the time the money changed hands. Investigators also found a confirmation receipt in Patel’s car with the Edwardsville victim’s name on it.

Patel lives in Des Plaines, Illinois, about 20 miles northwest of downtown Chicago.

The St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office charged Patel with theft: $25,000 or more. The Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office charged Patel with two counts of robbery.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information about charges in Madison County, Illinois.