Washington, May 28: A US court on Thursday sentenced an Indian national to three years in federal prison in connection with a telemarketing fraud scheme.
Himanshu Asri (34) of Delhi had previously admitted to being a key participant in a wide-ranging telemarketing fraud scheme that targeted and defrauded US residents, primarily senior citizens, the Department of Justice said.
The 36 months in federal prison will be followed by three years of federal supervised release, Acting United States Attorney Richard B Myrus announced.
Asri faces deportation proceedings upon completion of his term of incarceration.
In his guilty plea last December, Asri admitted that for at least the five years that preceded his arrest in early 2020, he ran a call centre in India that engaged in Tech Fraud, a scheme to extract money from computer users by deceiving them into believing that their computers were subject to attacks.
As part of the scheme, Asri had pop-up advertisements appear on computer users' screens. The ads falsely asserted that a malware was detected on those computers and urged that a telephone number be called for assistance, federal prosecutors alleged.
Those who called spoke to operators at Asri's call centre and at other call centres based in India. The operators reiterated the lie that a malware was detected on the callers' computers and offered them fictitious computer protection services for an exorbitant price, according to court papers.
"Those who fell prey to this scam paid on an average USD 482 and some times, over USD 1,000 and did not receive any actual computer protection service or assistance," it said.
According to the Department of Justice, from the call data obtained for a three-month period, it was estimated that over five years, Asri's scheme led approximately 6,500 people to view the deceptive pop-up ads and encounter call centre operators who made the Tech Fraud pitch.
"It is estimated that 1,950 of those people fell prey to Tech Fraud. Asri and his co-conspirators defrauded that group of at least USD 940,995.74. Had all of the attempts to defraud been successful, the victims would have lost an estimated total of USD 3,133,000," it said.