Indian national pleads guilty to role in malware protection scam in US
Washington, December 4
A 33-year-old Indian man on Thursday pleaded guilty to the charges of participating in a computer protection services scam that defrauded Americans, many of them senior citizens, by telling them that malware had been detected on their computers.
Himanshu Asri, who is from New Delhi, admitted before a federal judge in Providence that he defrauded people by telling victims that malware had been detected on their computers and, based on that falsehood, induced the victims to direct money to him and his co-conspirators as payment for purported computer protection services that were not needed or ever provided.
The conspirators, in fact, did not detect malware on victims’ computers and accepted payment without providing any protection services, federal prosecutors said.
In his guilty plea, Asri admitted that he had 325 callers routed to call centres in India where call centre operators falsely reasserted to victims that malware had been detected on their computers, and offered the victims purported computer protection services in exchange for payment.
The purpose of the false assertions was to induce people into routing money to the fraudsters.
Between January 2015 and January 2020, Asri and others working together collected, in total, approximately USD940,995 from victims through their fraud, and attempted to collect between USD 3 million and USD 5 million.
The actual loss was less than the intended loss because some of those who were targeted by Asri and his co-conspirators did not send any funds to the fraudsters, said the Department of Justice.
Asri is the fourth India-based telemarketing fraudster to be convicted in federal court in Rhode Island in the past three months. He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 18, 2021.
Wire fraud conspiracy is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of USD 250,000. PTI