Indian origin call center owner jailed for transnational fraud scheme


An Indian-origin call center owner was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud as part of a large-scale telemarketing scheme and relentlessly stealing millions of dollars from innocent Americans and falsely posing as a federal employee, announced the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS-CI).

Ajay Sharma, a 54-year-old was sentenced Dec. 17, by United States District Judge Joan M. Azrack and has been ordered to pay restitution of $3.266,714 and forfeit $1,005,421.

Based in New York, Sharma is the owner and director of APS Technology, a telemarketing call center located in New Delhi, and between January 2018 and September 2018, he along with his co-conspirators targeted victims in the United States and falsely claimed to be employees of the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration or the Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to the press note, the victims were informed that they owed a sum of money to the U.S. government or one of its agencies and that they would be arrested if the debts were not promptly paid. The victims wired payments to bank accounts that the defendants had opened in the names of inactive and shell corporations solely to receive the fraud proceeds. Then Sharma and his co-conspirators withdrew the funds.

The court document sent to indica by IRS Criminal Investigation, states that Shama and his team not just robbed money but also ran a false e-Commerce website. “The co-conspirators would agree to sell a purported product to an online purchaser and would collect the purported purchase price, without ever forwarding the product as had been agreed upon,” according to the court document.

The court document also reveals that Sharma’s co-conspirators, Ankur Sharma, Armughanul Asar, Harpreet Singh, “Ricardo Urbina, and Jamal Zafar on receiving the wire transfer payments from innocent people would then distribute the money via cashier’s checks and wire transfers to other bank accounts.

In total, between approximately January 2016 and the date of the filing of this Indictment, the defendants received approximately $2.5 million dollars from the victims as a result of the fraudulent scheme.

Four of Sharma’s co-conspirators, Ankur Sharma, Armughanul Asar, Harpreet Singh and Jamal Zafar previously pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Two other co-conspirators, Ricardo Urbino and Kamal Zafar are scheduled for trial in March 2022.

“Today’s sentence demonstrates that defendants like Ajay Sharma, who perpetrate transnational fraud schemes through lies and by instilling fear in their victims, will be brought to justice and pay for their crimes,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace stated through a press note. “This case was the result of a coordinated law enforcement response to disrupt fraudulent call centers based in India and protect the public from financial exploitation.”

IRS-CI New York Special Agent in Charge Thomas Fattorusso stated, “IRS Criminal Investigation is determined to dismantle these criminal enterprises that victimize hardworking U.S. citizens for personal gain. IRS-CI will continue to protect our financial system from fraudsters both abroad and here at home.”