An Indian national became the fifth person to plead guilty in federal court on Long Island to federal charges for his role in running a multi-million dollar transnational fraud scheme.
Ajay Sharma, a citizen of India who served as the director and owner of APS Technology, a telemarketing call center located in New Delhi, pleaded guilty this week in Central Islip federal court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a fraudulent scheme targeting thousands of Americans.
Four of Sharma’s co-conspirators - Bellrose resident Ankur Sharma, Queens Village resident Harpreet Singh, Huntington resident Jamal Zafar, and College Point resident Armughanul Asar - previously pleaded guilty, and two are scheduled for trial in February 2021.
Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said that Sharma was the leader of the scheme, which ran from January 2018 through September 2018 out of call centers in India.
It is alleged that Sharma and his co-conspirators falsely claimed to be employees of the IRS, the Social Security Administration, or the Drug Enforcement Administration, stating that their victims owe money to the United States government.
The callers would then threaten to have their victims arrested if their “debt” was not promptly paid.
Once the victims wired payments to bank accounts controlled by the schemers in the names of inactive and shell corporations, the money was taken out and laundered through several other additional bank accounts.
In total, more than $2 million was stolen and laundered during the nine-month scheme.
“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,” DuCharme stated.
“This case makes clear that U.S. 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.”
When he is sentenced, Sharma, whose been detained since his arrest in October 2018, faces up to 20 years in prison, a forfeiture of $1,005,421, and a fine of up to $2,500,000.
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