BOSTON – A New Jersey man has pleaded guilty in federal court in Springfield to his role in a conspiracy which resulted in a Massachusetts victim converting her bank account funds into gold, because she was tricked into believing that her accounts had been compromised by purported drug traffickers.
Gaurang Contractor, 38, a citizen of India living in Jersey City, N.J., pleaded guilty on March 27, 2023 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni scheduled sentencing for May 24, 2023. Contractor was previously arrested on state charges in August 2022 and later indicted by a federal grant jury in December 2022.
A man posing as an agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who referred to himself as “Oscar White,” contacted a victim in early August 2022 and told the victim that her bank accounts had been “compromised” by drug dealers. “Oscar White” directed the victim to convert her life savings to gold. “Oscar White” provided the victim with the name of a jewelry store in Hadley, Mass. where the victim could purchase gold. “Oscar White” then directed the victim to leave the gold in her unlocked vehicle and promised to send a “court officer” to pick up the gold for safekeeping by the DEA. The victim became suspicious and contacted law enforcement.
On Aug. 8, 2022, Contractor, unaware that the victim had contacted law enforcement, drove from New Jersey to Hadley, Mass, and conducted surveillance at the jewelry store. Unbeknownst to Contractor, a law enforcement officer, posing as the victim, entered the jewelry store and completed a sham transaction for two buckets worth of gold. Contractor followed the victim’s vehicle containing fake gold to a nearby parking lot. Upon arriving at the meeting location in the parking lot, Contractor removed the two buckets he believed to contain gold from the victim’s vehicle and placed them in his own car. He was subsequently arrested.
The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to a $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan; and Hadley Police Chief Michael A. Mason made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Danial Bennett and Kaitlin Brown of Rollins’ Worcester Branch Office are prosecuting the case.