Lead Defendant Pleads Guilty in Long Island Federal Court to Transnational Fraud Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Callers Based in India Impersonated Federal Employees and Netted Over $2 Million From Victims Across the United States
Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, Ajay Sharma, a citizen of India and the director and owner of APS Technology, a telemarketing call center located in New Delhi, pleaded guilty via videoconference to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a fraudulent scheme directed at thousands of individuals in the United States. Today’s proceeding took place before United States Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson. When sentenced, Sharma faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as forfeiture of $1,005,421 and a fine of up to $2,500,000. Sharma has been detained since his arrest in October 2018.
Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the guilty plea.
“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,” stated Acting United States Attorney DuCharme. “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.”
Mr. DuCharme thanked the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, New York City Police Department and Garden City Police Department for their invaluable assistance with the case.
As alleged in the indictment and other court filings and proceedings, Sharma was a leader and organizer of the fraud scheme. Between January 2018 and September 2018, operating from call centers in India, the defendants targeted victims in the United States and falsely claimed to be employees of the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration or the Drug Enforcement Administration. The victims were informed that they owed a sum of money to the United States government or one of its agencies and that they would be arrested if the debts were not promptly paid. After the victims wired payments to bank accounts that the defendants had opened in the names of inactive and shell corporations to receive the fraud proceeds, the funds were withdrawn and laundered through additional bank accounts. The scheme is estimated to have netted over $2 million from victims across the United States.
Four of Sharma’s co-conspirators previously pleaded guilty, and two are scheduled for trial in February 2021 before United States District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Charles P. Kelly and Diane Leonardo are in charge of the prosecution.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-024
Defendants Who Have Previously Pleaded Guilty:
Bellerose, New York
Queens Village, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-024
Huntington, New York
College Point, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-385 (SJF)
United States Attorney’s Office
Updated November 30, 2020