Two Indian nationals have been sentenced to 41 months in prison for their part in an international fraud scheme to cheat elderly victims across the US of $1.2 million in illegal wire transfers with robocalls.
US District Judge Esther Salas imposed the sentences on Arushobike Mitra, 29, and Garbita Mitra, 25, (no relation) in Newark federal court on Sep 19, according to a Justice department press release. They had both previously pleaded guilty before him to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
â€œThese defendants and their conspirators preyed upon some of our most vulnerable citizens, using trickery and threats to coerce them into sending money,â€ said US Attorney Philip R. Sellinger.
â€œProtecting our elderly population from these kinds of deceitful robocall scams is a priority of our office. Those who engage in this kind of elder fraud scheme can expect to face justice,â€ he said.
According to court documents, as part of an international fraud scheme, criminal India-based call centers utilized automated robocalls to victims across the country with the intent of defrauding US residents, particularly the elderly.
READ: DHS warns immigrants, minority groups to be wary of robocall fraudÂ (August 31, 2022)
After establishing contact with victims through these automated calls, other members of the conspiracy would coerce or trick the victims into sending large sums of cash through physical shipments or wire transfers to other members of the conspiracy, including the Mitras.
These conspirators used a variety of schemes to convince victims to send money, including impersonating government officials from agencies such as the Social Security Administration, or impersonating law enforcement officers from the FBI or DEA, and threatened victims with severe legal or financial consequences if they did not comply.
Another method utilized by the callers involved convincing the victim they were speaking with someone from a tech support company and coercing the victim into granting the caller remote access to their personal computers.
READ: Indian American man pleads guilty to scam to defraud elderly(January 12, 2021)
The caller would then access the victimâ€™s bank accounts and make it appear to the victim that the caller had inadvertently added money to the victimâ€™s bank account, when in fact the caller had simply transferred money from another one of the victimâ€™s own accounts.
The caller would then instruct the victim to â€œreturnâ€ the money by way of mail or wire transfer to other members of the conspiracy, including the Mitras.
READ: Why robocalls from India-based call centers are on decline (June 20, 2022)
In addition to the prison terms, Salas sentenced Arushobike Mitra and Garbita Mitra each to three years of supervised release and ordered them to pay $835,324 in restitution.