ABC News Investigations of the Year: Phantom Debt Collectors

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Impact: In August, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Patel, 68, of Tracy, California, was charged by a federal grand jury with 21 counts of wire fraud and mail fraud for a fraudulent debt collection scheme, a crime that carries a potential sentence of 20 years in prison or a $250,000 fine, or both.

The indictment alleges that Patel established a front company named "Broadway Global Master" that was used to process the payments after victims relented and provided credit card numbers to avoid arrest over the nonexistent debts. The case is currently being adjudicated in federal court in Sacramento. Patel has pleaded not guilty.

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