3 Charged In Million-Dollar Elder Fraud Scheme
Defendants Accessed Their Victims’ Computers Without Authorization, Caused Them to Malfunction and Lured the Victims’ Into Purchasing Phony Computer Repair Services
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Gregory W. Ehrie, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Newark Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the unsealing of a criminal Complaint in Manhattan federal court charging GUNJIT MALHOTRA, GURJEET SINGH, and JAS PAL with participating in a conspiracy that for several years exploited elderly victims by remotely accessing their computers and convincing victims to pay for computer support services they did not need, and which were never actually provided. The conspiracy netted at least $1.3 million for the conspirators. MALHOTRA and PAL were arrested yesterday and were presented before Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman. SINGH was arrested yesterday in St. Louis, Missouri, and will be presented before a magistrate judge today.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, these defendants devised a sophisticated scheme that involved accessing victims’ computers to charge them for unnecessary repairs or repair services they never performed. By targeting the elderly, the defendants took advantage of some of our society’s must vulnerable members, and they now face criminal consequences for their alleged predatory conduct.”
FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Gregory W. Ehrie said: “The scheme charged is the latest scam to victimize unsuspecting people who are just looking for assistance. The FBI is constantly on the lookout for criminals posing as legitimate businesses but we want the public to be more aware, as well. Make sure you are calling a reputable company at the number listed on their website, not through a random pop-up on the computer or from a robo-call left on your voicemail. And, above all, report anything suspicious to law enforcement.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
MALHOTRA, SINGH, PAL, and others engaged in a scheme in which they and their co-conspirators purported to provide computer repair services to victims located throughout the United States, many of whom are elderly. The defendants and their co-conspirators provided their victims’ false and misleading information to extract payment for computer repair services. For example, the defendants and their co-conspirators: (i) claimed to be associated with major technology software companies when, in fact, they were not; (ii) promised to provide computer services when none were provided; and (iii) represented that computer repair services were needed when they knew that was false. As part of their scheme, the defendants and their co-conspirators accessed their victims’ computers and caused them to freeze or, in other instances, installed software on their victims’ computers and caused their victims’ email accounts to send emails that thanked the perpetrators for providing computer services. In connection with the scheme, the defendants and others established several companies. The victims typically sent payments to those companies via private and commercial interstate mail carrier, among other methods. In total, the defendants and their co-conspirators have obtained from their victims more than $1.3 million.
* * *
MALHOTRA, 30, of Ghaziabad, India, SINGH, 22 of Queens, New York, and PAL, 54, of Queens, New York, have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to access a protected computer in furtherance of fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. SINGH was also charged with aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI in this investigation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Ryan B. Finkel is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.