PROVIDENCE – An Indian national who owned and operated an India-based call center that targeted and defrauded Americans, mostly senior citizens, and who assisted other India-based call centers in doing the same, that collectively intended to bilk Americans out of millions of dollars, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Providence to three years in federal prison.
Sahil Narang, 29, of Gurgoan Haryana, India, who was in the United States illegally at the time of his arrest in May 2019, is described in court documents as a key participant in sophisticated so-called Tech Fraud and Refund Fraud online telemarketing schemes that targeted technologically unsophisticated computer users, usually senior citizens.
In the Tech Fraud scheme, Internet pop-up advertisements were used to deceive computer users into believing that they needed computer protection services. The pop-up ads provided a telephone number to call, and on dialing the number, the victims were routed to call center operators who perpetuated the lie that malware had been detected on the victims’ computers and offered the victims supposed computer protection services at exaggerated prices.
In the Refund Fraud scheme, call center operators telephoned those who had fallen prey to Tech Fraud and offered to refund the sum previously paid. Through manipulation – usually the display of false bank account balances on the victims’ computer screens – the operators convinced the victims that sums far in excess of the refund amount had accidentally been deposited into the victims’ accounts. Because the victims had not in fact received any money, those who “returned” money were actually sending more of their own money to the fraudsters.
According to information presented to the court, between August 30, 2019, and May 1, 2019, employing the Tech Fraud scheme, Narang and others worked together to manipulate thousands of callers, seeking to obtain from them an estimated $1.5 million to $3 million dollars. An FBI investigation determined that over a nine-month period Narang routed on average more than 70 calls to call centers every day. It is also estimated that Narang’s Tech Fraud scheme was successful 30% of the time.
In round two of the scheme, the Refund Fraud scheme, executed during the same nine-month period, Narang and others associated with call centers sought to obtain from their victims cumulatively $560,900 dollars. The FBI investigation identified at least nine individuals who fell victim to the Tech Fraud Scheme at a total loss of $110,900, which the FBI was able to intercept and return to the victims. During the investigation the FBI interceded and prevented loss when a tenth victim was on the verge of losing up to $450,000 to the fraudsters.
Sahil Narang pleaded guilty on December 11, 2020, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and ten counts of wire fraud. He was sentenced today to 36 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, announced Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus. A restitution order will be forthcoming from the Court.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Milind M. Shah.