Indian telemarketing fraudster from Rhode Island sentenced

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An Indian national who admitted to being a key participant in a wide-ranging telemarketing fraud scheme that targeted and defrauded United States residents, primarily senior citizens, was sentenced May 27, 2021, in U.S. District Court in Providence, Rhode Island, to three years in federal prison.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Milind Shah, said Himanshu Asri, 34, of Delhi, India, admitted that for at least the five years that preceded his arrest in early 2020, he ran a call center in India that engaged in Tech Fraud.

Asri, who faces deportation proceedings upon completion of his sentence, pleaded guilty on December 3, 2020, to wire fraud. He was sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., to 36 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of federal supervised release, announced Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus.

The fraud scheme operated to extract money from computer users by deceiving them into believing that their computers were subject to attack.

As part of the scheme, Asri had pop-up advertisements appear on computer users’ screens.  The ads falsely asserted that malware had been detected on those computers and urged that a telephone number be called for assistance.

Those who called spoke to operators at Asri’s call center and at other call centers based in India.  The operators reiterated the lie that malware had been detected on the callers’ computers and offered the callers fictitious computer protection services for an exorbitant price.  Those who fell prey to this scam paid on average $482, and sometime over $1000, and did not receive any actual computer protection service or assistance.

From call data obtained for a three-month period, it was estimated that over five years Asri’s scheme led approximately 6,500 people to view Asri’s deceptive pop-up ads and encounter call center operators who made the Tech Fraud pitch.  It is estimated that 1,950 of those people fell prey to Tech Fraud.  Asri and his co-conspirators defrauded that group of at least $940,995.74.

Had all of the attempts to defraud been successful, victims would have lost an estimated total of $3,133,000, the press release said.

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