5 Indians convicted for telemarketing fraud, says US attorney

Lalit K Jha
·3-min read

Washington, Dec 21 (PTI) Five Indian nationals have been convicted in the last four months for telemarketing fraud running into millions of dollars, a US attorney said on Monday.

The convicts were identified as Sahil Narang, 29; Chirag Sachdeva, 30; Abrar Anjum, 34; Manish Kumar, 32 and Himanshu Asri, 33. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Milind M Shah.

US Attorney Aaron Weisman said that all these five men participated in telemarketing schemes that operated out of call centers in India, such as 'Tech Support' and 'Refund Fraud' schemes, often obtaining personal identifying and banking information from victims' computers through remote access applications or from victims themselves.

The information was used to access victims’ bank accounts in order to steal or misappropriate their funds.

'Preying upon vulnerable men and women for financial gain by means of telemarketing is not only repellant, but violative of federal law; and, as demonstrated by the convictions announced today, law enforcement has no imperative but, and will not hesitate, to hold such defendants fully accountable to criminal process,' Weisman said.

'These five men pilfered millions of dollars from unsuspecting victims all over the country, most of them senior citizens, leaving them in financial ruin without any recourse for recovery,' said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.

The most recent defendant to be convicted is Narang.

On December 11, Narang pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and ten counts of wire fraud, admitting that over a nine-month period beginning in August 2018, he routed nearly 20,000 'Tech Fraud' scheme calls to call centers in India.

Many of the callers hung-up shortly after making contact with a call center operator. However, approximately 7,524 callers remained on the line with call center operators for more than 20 minutes. The intended loss to victims was between USD 1.5 million and USD 3 million, the Department of Justice said.

Narang also admitted to participating in a 'Refund Scheme' by obtaining the phone number of victims already victimized by the 'Tech Fraud' scheme. Narang sold those numbers to fraudsters interested in exploiting those victims for more money through the 'Refund Fraud' scheme.

Additionally, in exchange for providing bank account information for use by Refund Fraudsters, he collected a portion of the money routed through the accounts, usually fifty to sixty per cent. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled by the court, federal prosecutors said.

In November, Sachdeva was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for his role as a 'Tech Fraud' telemarketer fraudster. He pleaded guilty on September 14, 2020, to seven counts of wire fraud.

In February, FBI agents arrested Abrar Anjum prior to his boarding a flight to India. On August 24, 2020, Anjum pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 11, 2021.

Kumar was arrested by FBI agents on August 24, 2019, as he deplaned in New York City from a flight from India, for his participation in two telemarketing schemes and for credit card fraud. Kumar pleaded guilty on November 5, 2020, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of wire fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 20, 2021.

Asri, 33, pleaded guilty on December 3, 2020, to wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and telemarking wire fraud. He admitted that he had 325 callers routed to call centers in India where call center operators falsely reasserted to victims that malware had been detected on their computers, and offered the victims purported computer protection services in exchange for payment. He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 18, 2021. PTI LKJ ZH ZH ZH