2 men accused of stealing $80K from senior woman in Ocala phone scam

Parth Patel, Jayarami Kuruguntla face charges in connection to con

Parth Patel and Jayarami Kuruguntla face charges in connection with the scam, police said. (Ocala Police Department)

OCALA, Fla. – Two men were arrested after police said they scammed a 69-year-old Ocala woman out of $80,000 over the phone.

Parth Patel and Jayarami Kuruguntla face charges in connection with the scam, which started on May 23, according to police.

Officers said the victim initially received a pop-up message on her iPad claiming her bank had been compromised and that she needed to call a 1-(833) number. After calling the number, the scammer told her she was a suspect in a child pornography case and posed as her financial institution, the department said.

According to police, the scammer then told the woman a $30,000 purchase of child pornography was made in China and in order to resolve the issue, she needed to pay that money back, which she did out of fear of being arrested. She withdrew the money from the bank, and per the scammer’s instructions, went to a Bitcoin ATM to transfer the cash to cryptocurrency, police added.

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The next day, the scammer contacted her again, demanding $50,000 more, asking her to withdraw the money the same way as before, to which she refused, according to police. Officers said she didn’t feel safe carrying that much money and so the scammer said he would come to her house to collect it.

After the suspect collected the money, the victim then called 911, explaining “she only gave the money because she was scared she would be killed if she didn’t,” according to the department.

The scammer contacted the victim again the next day to ask for an additional $50,000 that they would pick up at the house, police said.

Officers said they responded to the location, identifying and arresting Patel and Kuruguntla. During questioning, Kuruguntla said he wasn’t sure of the purpose of their trip to Ocala and Patel lied, saying how the pair “came to hang out and have dinner” before claiming “they were supposed to pick up a package at the victim’s address for a friend in India,” according to police.

Patel faces charges for organized fraud of $50,000 or more and unlawful use of a two-way communication device while Kuruguntla faces charges for larceny and fraud/swindle to obtain property of $50,000 or more.

To prevent against phone scams, remember to be skeptical, guard your personal information, verify before trusting, don’t rush into decisions and hang up and report any suspicious behavior or activity to law enforcement.

You can read more about how to protect you or your loved ones from scammers here.

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