NEWARK, N.J. – An Indian national today admitted his role in an international conspiracy that preyed on elderly victims in New Jersey and throughout the United States, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Ashish Bajaj, 29, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to an information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
From April 2020 to August 2021, Bajaj and his conspirators preyed on elderly victims across the United States by impersonating fraud prevention specialists from various banks, online retailers, and online payment companies. They contacted victims and falsely claimed that they were fraud prevention specialists employed by reputable companies and that the victims’ accounts with banks, online retailers, or online payments companies were being targeted for fraud. Bajaj and his conspirators then falsely told the victims that their fraud prevention efforts required the victims’ assistance in a sting operation to catch the perpetrators.
Bajaj and the conspirators asked the elderly victims to send money from their bank accounts to accounts controlled by Bajaj and the conspirators and falsely promised to return their money within a few days of the purported sting operation. The victims were also falsely promised that once they sent the money, the sting operation would result in the arrest of the purported perpetrators. The victims sent international wire transfers to various banks located in India, China, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates. The victims also sent money through an online application to bank accounts held by Bajaj in the United States. The victims further sent cash and cashier checks to Bajaj at an address in California. The scheme resulted in losses of over $250,000.
The conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 8, 2022.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Blake Coppotelli of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit.