Two Indian-origin persons have been sentenced to jail in the US for conspiring to commit wire fraud under which they used a call centre in India to defraud hundreds of individuals across America.
California residents 47-year-old Baljit Singh and 36-year-old Sharanjit Kaur were sentenced by US District Judge Lawrence O'Neill for conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud.
Singh was sentenced to four years while Kaur would spend over three years in jail.
O'Neill also ordered the forfeiture of a property in New York owned by Kaur with more than USD 100,000 in equity and over USD 26,000 from two bank accounts held by the two.
According to court documents, Kaur and Singh owned and operated several companies based in California for the sole purpose of defrauding at least 180 customers throughout the US.
Kaur and Singh told consumers their companies provided debt consolidation services.
The two falsely promised customers that they could obtain low-interest loans, assist in avoiding lawsuits, lower mortgage payments and correct errors in credit reports.
The two utilised a call center in India from which individuals would call customers under fake identities.
After luring customers into using these services, they and their agents instructed customers to send in monthly payments of over USD 500.
In order to mislead customers, forged letters from creditors were sent indicating that loan modifications had been approved and when customers would contact the debt repair companies about late-payment or default notices they had received from their creditors, the defendants and their agents would hang up on customers.
The funds received from customers were used for the defendants' own benefit or wired to an individual located in Kolkata.
"The defendants in this case shamelessly ripped off scores of people who were already struggling financially," US Attorney Benjamin Wagner said.
Special Agent in Charge of the Sacramento Division of the FBI Herbert Brown said financial crimes perpetrated by Singh and Kaur result from "greed and disregard" for the victims the criminals claim to serve.