ATLANTA (CBS46) — Jamie Salas of Acworth is one of six defendants who were recently indicted for fraud that included targeting elderly citizens.

According to U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine, the defendants would pretend to work for a government agency, usually the Social Security Administration, and claim the victim's Social Security Number had been compromised in some way.

The conspiracy began with either robocall recordings purporting to be from a government agency or with emails purporting to be from legitimate companies. The robocall recordings and email messages provided callback numbers. When individuals called those numbers, they were connected to alleged scammers — some of whom were located in India. The scammers sometimes used actual SSA employees' names to appear legitimate.

In those instances when the scammer claimed to work for a legitimate company, they reported that the victim was entitled to a company refund. The scammer often convinced the victim to download computer software that, unbeknownst to the victim, allowed the scammer to remotely access the computer. From there, the scammer manipulated the victim’s bank accounts to make it appear that, when attempting to refund the victim his or her money, the scammer “accidentally” refunded too much, and thus, the victim now owed a “debt” to the company. If the victim did not pay back this perceived debt, they would face certain consequences.

Once the scammer on the telephone scared the victims, the scammer would instruct the victim on how to pay money. Sometimes the scammer directed the victim to withdraw cash, package the cash in shipping boxes, and deliver the package as instructed. Other times, the individual on the phone would tell the victim to obtain gift cards and provide the redemption code on the back of the card. Oftentimes, the individual on the phone would tell the victim to wire money to a particular bank account; withdraw their money for cashier’s checks made payable to a specific company; or deposit cash directly into a specific company’s bank account.

To effect the alleged wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy, the named defendants — all of whom reside in the United States — allegedly created companies with various Secretaries of State offices and then opened bank accounts in the company’s names. These companies, however, did little to no legitimate business. Instead, their purpose was to receive and transfer victim funds. And it was into these bank accounts that the scammer on the phone instructed the victim to deposit their money.

Once the defendants had received the victims’ money, they allegedly laundered the fraud proceeds through their various accounts. The defendants and their companies are listed below:

Vikas Mehta, 48, of Cliffside Park, New Jersey, created two companies: Snoopy Trust LLC and MVJ Holdings LLC.

Walter Valdivia, 69, of Boca Raton, Florida, created Achieve Capital Group LLC and ACG Accounts Inc.

Pradip Parikh, 63, of Valley Stream, New York, formed JDM Management Inc.

Jaime Salas, 27, of Acworth, Georgia, formed Salas Construction LLC.

Alpesh Patel, 37 of Louisa, Virginia, created Seven Points Agency LLC.

Darash Shah, 22 of Boston, Massachusetts, formed Turtle Dove Holdings LLC.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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