New Jersey Residents Allegedly Instructed Victim to Transfer Money Using Bitcoin
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned an indictment today against Laxmikanth Biyani, 27, and Akshar Patel, 27, of New Jersey, charging them with conspiracy to launder money, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, from October to December 2020, a victim in El Dorado County sent over $600,000 to a caller who pretended to be an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration. He directed her to transfer money to him for safekeeping during the investigation of a drug trafficking case that involved her social security number. Some of the funds were transferred via Bitcoin, and $270,000 was transferred through cash drops in the parking lot of an elementary school in El Dorado Hills. On four occasions in November and December 2020, Biyani picked up cash drops left by the victim and delivered or attempted to deliver the money to co-conspirators. On two of those occasions, Patel assisted Biyani in the pickup and delivery of the cash drops. Biyani and Patel were arrested by the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office on December 15, 2020, and remain in custody.
This case is the product of an investigation by the United States Secret Service and the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mira Chernick is prosecuting the case.
If you believe you may be a victim of this fraud scheme, please contact the United States Secret Service at [email protected].
If convicted, Biyani and Patel each face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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