Indian American tech firms’ owner arrested for $45 million fraud

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Las Vegas man allegedly defrauded over 10,000 victims with investment fraud scheme

The Indian American owner of a group of technology companies has been arrested in Los Angeles for an alleged investment fraud scheme that defrauded more than 10,000 victims of over $45 million.

Neil Chandran, 50, of Las Vegas, was arrested on June 29 after the unsealing of a previously returned indictment by a federal grand jury in the District of Nebraska on June 14, according to a Justice Department release.

Read: Two Indians plead guilty to $1.2 million robocall fraud (June 30, 2022)

Chandran is charged with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the wire fraud counts and up to 10 years in prison for each count of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.

Chandran, according to the indictment, used his companies in a scheme to defraud investors by falsely promising extremely high returns on the premise that one or more of his companies, operated under the banner of “ViRSE,” was about to be acquired by a consortium of wealthy buyers.

Chandran’s companies — which included Free Vi Lab, Studio Vi Inc., ViDelivery Inc., ViMarket Inc., and Skalex USA Inc., among others — developed virtual-world technologies, including their own cryptocurrency, for use in the companies’ own metaverse.

The indictment alleges that Chandran caused other individuals to make various materially false and misleading representations to investors.

Read: Indian American doctor acquitted in prescription drug scheme trial (June 30, 2022)

He suggested they would soon receive extremely high returns when one or more of those companies was purchased by a group of wealthy buyers.

Chandran also told them that investor funds would be used for normal expenses to keep the companies operating until they were purchased, and prominent business figures, including two billionaires, were involved in the purchase.

In fact, according to the indictment, there was no such buyer group that was about to purchase Chandran’s companies for the claimed returns and no prominent billionaires were involved in purchasing them.

A substantial portion of the funds were misappropriated for other business ventures and the personal benefit of Chandran and others, including the purchase of luxury cars and real estate.

Read: US charges Indian-origin tech entrepreneur in $45mn investment fraud (July 1, 2022)

The indictment also alleges that 100 different assets — bank accounts, real estate, and luxury vehicles, including 39 Tesla vehicles — are subject to forfeiture as proceeds of the fraud.

US Marshals and the FBI are seizing most of the assets pending resolution of the criminal case, the release said.

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