Callers based in India impersonated federal employees and netted more than $2 million from victims across the United States, and today, Nov. 30, 2020, one of the leaders of that scheme pleaded guilty in a Federal District Court in Central Islip, Long island, NY.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Ajay Sharma, a citizen of India and the director and owner of APS Technology, a telemarketing call center located in New Delhi, pleaded guilty via videoconference to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a fraudulent scheme directed at thousands of individuals in the United States.
The proceeding took place before United States Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson.
Four of Sharma’s co-conspirators previously pleaded guilty, and two are scheduled for trial in February 2021 before United States District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein.
When sentenced, Sharma faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as forfeiture of $1,005,421 and a fine of up to 2,500,000. Sharma has been detained since his arrest in October 2018.
According to prosecutors, Sharma and his crew perpetrated “a sprawling, transnational fraud scheme that preyed on unsuspecting victims’ fears that they were running afoul of the law.”
As alleged in the indictment and other court filings and proceedings, Sharma was a leader and organizer of the fraud scheme.
Between January 2018 and September 2018, operating from call centers in India, the defendants targeted victims in the United States and falsely claimed 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 United States 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the defendants had opened in the names of inactive and shell corporations to receive the fraud proceeds, the funds were withdrawn and laundered through additional bank accounts.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 $2 million from victims across the United States, the press release said.