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Three charged in million-dollar elder fraud scheme

NRI Pulse Staff Report

Atlanta, GA, May 29, 2019: An Indian from Ghaziabad and two Indian American men were arrested recently for allegedly participating in a conspiracy that exploited elderly victims by remotely accessing their computers and convincing victims to pay for computer support services they did not need, and which were never actually provided. 

Gunjit Malhotra, 30 of Ghaziabad, Gurjeet Singh, 22 of Queens New York and Jas Pal, 54 also of Queens were charged in a Manhattan federal court on May 25, 2019.

According to the charges, the conspiracy netted at least $1.3 million for the conspirators.  Malhotra and Pal were arrested last Thursday and were presented before Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman.  Singh was arrested the same day in St. Louis, Missouri.

According to the allegations in the complaint unsealed last Friday in Manhattan federal court, the trio and others engaged in a scheme in which they and their co-conspirators purported to provide computer repair services to victims located throughout the US, many of whom are elderly. 

The defendants and their co-conspirators provided their victims’ false and misleading information to extract payment for computer repair services.  The defendants and their co-conspirators claimed to be associated with major technology software companies when, in fact, they were not.

They promised to provide computer services when none were provided and represented that computer repair services were needed when they knew that was false. 

As part of their scheme, the defendants and their co-conspirators accessed their victims’ computers and caused them to freeze or, in other instances, installed software on their victims’ computers and caused their victims’ email accounts to send emails that thanked the perpetrators for providing computer services.  In connection with the scheme, the defendants and others established several companies.  The victims typically sent payments to those companies via private and commercial interstate mail carrier, among other methods.  In total, the defendants and their co-conspirators have obtained from their victims more than $1.3 million.

The three men have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to access a protected computer in furtherance of fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  Singh was also charged with aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison. 

The charges contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Gregory W. Ehrie said,  “The scheme charged is the latest scam to victimize unsuspecting people who are just looking for assistance.  The FBI is constantly on the lookout for criminals posing as legitimate businesses but we want the public to be more aware, as well.  Make sure you are calling a reputable company at the number listed on their website, not through a random pop-up on the computer or from a robo-call left on your voicemail.  And, above all, report anything suspicious to law enforcement.”

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