March 30, 2018
By Bob Coleman
Editor, Fraud Friday
Fraud Friday — How Not to Get Ripped Off in a Patel-Like Fraud
Nik Patel’s travel buddy who chartered a jet to Ecuador and successfully executed a $7 million USDA b&i loan fraud while Nik was sitting in jail, and almost got away another $7 million, has pled guilty. Kevin Tirmichan faces up to five years in jail.
I’ve reported on these facts before, so let’s put the facts into context to help know how not to get ripped off.
Do a Google Earth Search of Addresses
Nik Patel created an identify of a Ron Elias. “Ron Elias” provided loan documents to Farmer Mac that contained Banco do Brasil letterhead and included the address 1001 Brickell Bay Drive, Suite 2700, Miami, Florida, 33131. Banco do Brasil does not have operations or lease property at 1001 Brickell Bay Drive, Suite 2700, Miami, Florida.
Verify identities via LinkedIn and Google searches
“Ron Elias” is not employed by Banco do Brasil, Banco do Brasil does not have a vice president of guaranteed lending, and neither Banco do Brasil nor its subsidiary, BB Americas, engages in USDA lending.
Be aware of Email Spoofing — Check domains
Throughout the purchase process, Farmer Mac communicated with “Ron Elias” at the email address “email@example.com,” which is different from the legitimate email domain used by BB Americas. Banco do Brasil does not own or use the domain bbamericassba.com. The legitimate email domain name used by the Banco do Brasil subsidiary BB Americas is “bbamericas.com.”
Verify Telephone Numbers
The telephone number that “Ron Elias” provided Farmer Mac was 7**- 3**-9**2. According to Banco do Brasil, that telephone number is not among the numbers owned or used by the bank. When agents called phone number 7**-3**-9**2, a cellular phone that had been in Patel’s possession at the time of his arrest rang.
Understand any document can be photoshopped and fraudulent
Patel told Timirchand how to access an account with the website “www.efarmermac.com.” Patel instructed Timirchand to send an email to “Judy, at Farmer Mac and dictated the content of the email to Timirchand: “Judy, I am out of the office for the next few days on vacation. I have limited access to email as well as phone. I see that there are two outstanding issues on the online loan application for settlement. Both these issues are related to the USDA.”
Know Exactly who you are Communicating with — the Fraudster may have Accomplices, or again Impersonate others
The instructions continued, “Since I’m out of the office I think it would be best if you resolved these with Mr. A******* at the USDA.”
The Fraud is Complete
Information provided by Farmer Mac shows that, on January 11, 2018, Farmer Mac purchased a portion of a loan associated with “Ron Elias.” The loan amount was $10,000,000, and 70% of the loan was guaranteed by the USDA. The loan amount purchased by Farmer Mac, $7,000,000, was the USDA-guaranteed portion of the loan. Farmer Mac caused the purchase amount to be wired to Unified Legal Group PA, with a memo stating “For further credit to Client: BB America Cash Management.”
The feds were able to seize $6.5 million from a Merrill Lynch account. $500,000 was sent to accomplices overseas and is long gone.
However, Another $10 Million Fraud is Averted.
On February 1, 2018, while being detained in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, pending transfer to Chicago, Patel had further discussions with Timirchand regarding the continuation of their scheme to defraud. Patel instructed Timirchand to contact “Anna” at the USDA to tell her that “Ron” was on vacation and that Timirchand should be considered the “admin” for Banco do Brasil moving forward.
Shortly thereafter, Timirchand, using his actual name, but the e-mail address “firstname.lastname@example.org,” sent an e-mail to a USDA employee in Gainesville, Florida, named “Anna.” In the e-mail, Timirchand said, “Ron is on vacation with very limited access to phone and email, and had assigned me these tasks to complete.” Timirchand signed the e-mail, “Analyst-Guaranteed Lending,” as Patel had instructed him.
Read our previous reporting