Indian national pleads guilty to transnational fraud scheme

Lalit K Jha
·2-min read

Washington, Dec 1 (PTI) An Indian national who runs a New Delhi-based telemarketing call center Monday pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a fraudulent scheme directed at thousands of individuals in the United States, the Department of Justice said.

Ajay Sharma, the director and owner of APS Technology, faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as forfeiture of USD1,005,421 and a fine of up to USD 2,500,000.

Sharma has been detained since his arrest in October 2018 and pleaded guilty via videoconference.

Seth D. DuCharme, the Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the guilty plea.

Four of Sharma’s co-conspirators previously pleaded guilty, and two are scheduled for trial in February 2021 before United States District Judge Sandra Feuerstein.

“Ajay Sharma and his crew perpetrated a sprawling, transnational fraud scheme that preyed on unsuspecting victims’ fears that they were running afoul of the law,” said Acting United States Attorney DuCharme.

“This case makes clear that US law enforcement will not stop at our borders to locate and vigorously prosecute criminals, whether foreign or domestic, who cause financial harm to others in the United States,” he said.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that Sharma was the leader and organiser of the fraud scheme.

Between January and September 2018, operating from call centers in India, the defendants targeted victims in the US by falsely claiming to be employees of the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration or the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The victims were informed that they owed a sum of money to the US government or one of its agencies and that they would be arrested if the debts were not promptly paid.

After the victims wired payments to bank accounts that the defendants had opened in the names of inactive and shell corporations to receive the fraud proceeds, the funds were withdrawn and laundered through additional bank accounts.

The scheme is estimated to have netted over USD2 million from victims across the United States, the Department of Justice said. PTI LKJ TIR TIR