Washington, October 1
A 27-year-old Indian national illegally living in Houston has pleaded guilty to the charges of playing a role in a nationwide tech support refund scam, a US attorney said on Thursday.
Sumit Kumar Singh, who admitted to participating in a fraud ring from 2018-2020 which operated out of various cities, including Houston, faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible USD250,000 fine.
His sentencing is scheduled for December 20. He will remain in custody while awaiting sentencing.
According to court papers, the ring tricked and deceived victims using various ruses and instructed them to send money via wire through a money transmitter business such as Western Union or MoneyGram, by buying gift cards and providing them to the fraudsters and by mailing cash to alias names via FedEx or UPS.
“One such scheme involved the claim of providing computer technical support services in order to gain remote access to victims' computers. The fraud ring tricked and deceived victims into believing a technical support company purportedly helped them with their computers,” federal prosecutors said.
They then told the victims they had erroneously refunded or overpaid them and that the victim needed to return the overpayment in cash via FedEx or UPS, the prosecutors alleged.
According to the Department of Justice, the scheme generally worked because fraudsters contacted victims by phone or via internet sites directing them to a particular phone number.
Once victims contacted them, they were told various stories to include the victim was communicating with a technical support centre that needed remote access to their computer in order to provide technical support services. Once a victim provided such access, the fraudsters gained access to their personal data and bank and credit card information, it said.
As per court papers, victims typically paid a fee to conspirators for the alleged technical support but were later told they were due a refund.
“Through paying for “technical support” or through the “refund” process, the ring gained access to the victim's bank account(s) and credit cards and manipulated the accounts to make it appear the victim was paid too large a refund due to a typographical error (eg, a victim received a refund of USD10,000 instead of the intended refund amount of USD100). Victims were then instructed to reimburse the ring by various means,” federal prosecutors said. PTI
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