11 Jun 2019
US: Indian student gets 5-year jail over $1mn tech scam
The intern, Bishwajeet Kumar Jha (21), reportedly duped around two dozen people of nearly a million dollars through a "tech support" fraud scheme, US Department of Justice said on Monday.
Here are more details.
Jha and others targeted senior citizens; took their retirement funds
Jha was among several interns from the same college in India who were completing a hospitality industry internship in the US.
The victims, aged 58-93, were defrauded of their retirement funds, ranging between $1,180-174,300. Over three months, they collected $937,280.
The operation was based in Newport, Rhode Island, and had ties to a larger telemarketing operation in India, the Department of Justice stated.
Here's how the interns operated the scam
Reportedly, the victims, who believed that they had purchased technology support, were told that the money they paid had been incorrectly transferred back into their bank accounts by the tech support company.
The victims were then tricked into returning the erroneous refund either directly to Jha, or others involved in the scam. Some victims were even told to transfer the money overseas.
Investigation revealed money was transferred to India, China, Singapore
Newport Police interrupted the operation on November 20 last year when a court-authorized search of the residence of Jha and others revealed the possession of several items used to run the scam.
Further investigation, led by Newport Police and Homeland Security Investigation agents, revealed that the money was transferred to a bank account in California and later transferred internationally to India, Singapore, and China.
This type of criminal activity is disturbing: Newport Police Chief
Newport Police Chief Gary T. Silva said, "This type of criminal activity is disturbing. Those who prey on citizens, particularly those citizens who are vulnerable, are deliberately calculating in their persistent efforts to defraud honest people."
Silva added, "Successful prosecution of those responsible should provide notice to others contemplating similar acts that law enforcement and prosecutors are committed to bring to justice those responsible."
Jha sentenced to 60 months; ordered to repay victims
In a federal court in Providence, Rhode Island, US District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. sentenced Jha to 60 months in prison. Additionally, Jha has been ordered to repay his victims. A restitution order will be issued by the Court at a later date, the Department of Justice stated.
After completing his jail term, Jha will be deported to India.
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