Ashburn Man Pleads Guilty to International Identity Theft and Money Laundering Conspiracy
ALEXANDRIA, Va. –Amit Chaudhry, 44, of Ashburn, pleaded guilty today to two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of aggravated identity theft, and one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud for his role and participation in a sophisticated and large-scale identity theft and credit card fraud conspiracy.
According to the court documents, Chaudhry is an Indian national who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2005. Beginning in 2011, the defendant was part of a large, international wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy that involved processing stolen credit card numbers and laundering the proceeds through hundreds of bank accounts. Some of these bank accounts were set up in the name of shell companies, which did no real business. This fraud and money laundering conspiracy was carried out in part by teams of individuals working together in India, the United States, Europe and elsewhere. Some members would obtain the personal identifying information of real people; other members would obtain the credit card information from actual credit card customers, such as of American Express, and yet others would be responsible for electronically processing the stolen credit card transactions. Chaudhry helped laundering the proceeds of the credit card fraud and assisting co-conspirators who would come to the United States from India to open bank accounts used to hold and receive fraud proceeds.
Chaudhry also helped conceal and launder proceeds from a fraud scheme that targeted customers seeking cheap travel, including airline tickets and hotel reservations. Chaudhry helped to promote the fraudulent travel websites, including through mass mailings to prospective customers. Other members of the conspiracy would hold themselves out as prospective travel agents to customers. Customers’ travel itineraries would be purchased with stolen credit cards, which often resulted in those reservations being canceled. The customer’s money would be held and transferred among bank accounts controlled by members of the conspiracy, including Chaudhry. There were more than 1,000 victims from this fraud, which used various sophisticated means to conceal the identities of the conspirators.
The amount of the fraudulent proceeds generated by the money laundering conspiracy was more than $25 million.
Chaudhry was also involved in a separate money laundering conspiracy with Jacqueline Green-Morris, who previously pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy. Chaudhry and Green-Morris came up with a fraudulent billing scheme, whereby Chaudhry would submit inflated and fraudulent invoices for IT training to ActioNet, a contractor based in Virginia. Green-Morris used her position as an ActioNet employee to pay these fraudulent invoices. Chaudhry and Green-Morris split the fraud proceeds, which totaled approximately $4.1 million between 2012 and June 2016.
From at least 2001 and through at least June 2016, Chaudhry and others conspired to commit visa fraud by submitting false and fraudulent H-1B visa applications by and through various entities that the Chaudhry and others owned and controlled, including Networkxchange, Technologyxchange, Secure Networks, and the Knowledge Center. The conspiracy involved the submission of false and fraudulent applications and supporting documentation to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Some of these documents were signed using the name John King, a journalist who is CNN’s chief national correspondent.
Chaudhry faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on Jan. 19, 2017. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Thomas Jankowski, Special Agent in Charge, Washington D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); Clark E. Settles, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington; Terrence P. McKeown, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); and Bill A. Miller, Director of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) for the U.S. Department of State, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine L. Wong and Kimberly R. Pedersen are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:16-cr-211.