As part of the investigation, the FBI was able to intercept some of the fraudulently obtained funds and return them directly to victims Credit: Representational image

Washington: A 32-year-old Indian national who played a key role in a telemarketing fraud scheme has been sentenced to two years in federal prison, the Department of Justice has said.

Manish Kumar, was arrested by FBI agents on August 24, 2019, as he deplaned in New York City from a flight from India and ordered detention in federal custody. He pleaded guilty on November 5, 2020, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of wire fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

He was sentenced on Thursday to 24 months in federal prison to be followed by three years supervised release, and to pay restitution in the amount of $5,000.

As part of the investigation, FBI was able to intercept some of the fraudulently obtained funds and return them directly to victims, making additional restitution unnecessary.

Kumar previously admitted to the court that he directed telephone calls to call centers in India as part of a scheme to mislead individuals into believing that their computers were infected by malware, and to buy computer protection services from call center operators.

The call centers perpetuated the falsehood that malware had been detected on the callers’ computer, convincing callers to provide payment information to purchase putative technical support services. No putative services were provided, federal prosecutors alleged.

As part of the scheme, those who had been misled, were later victimised again. Call center operators called back and told the victims that they were entitled to refunds. The operators would then mislead the victims into believing that they had accidentally been sent far in excess of the refund amounts and urged the victims to return the overage, the Department of Justice said.

Because no funds had actually been sent to the victims, in returning the overage, the victims were actually parting with more of their own money, it said, adding that Kumar admitted to providing money routing services for this component of the scheme.

Kumar provided the call center operators with a bank account in the United States, where the victim money would be sent and then forwarded to Kumar and his coconspirators.

Additionally, Kumar admitted that he had obtained information sufficient to place charges on thirty-seven credit card accounts of US residents and had taken steps to have fraudulent charges placed on those accounts, the Department of Justice said.

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