US federal court indicts Indian firm, director for causing Americans $20 million loss
A US federal court has indicted an India-based Voice over Internet Protocol provider E Sampark and its director Gaurav Gupta on the charges of pushing out tens of millions of scam robocalls to American consumers and causing them a loss of over USD 20 million after misleading them, the Department of Justice has said, a report by PTI said.
Gupta and E Sampark maintained approximately sixty servers from May 2015 to June 2020 in Florida that the company used at times to connect criminal India-based callers with American consumers. The servers contained over 130,000 recordings of scam calls, including robocall voicemail recordings and conversations between the India-based scammers and US-based victims, the Department of Justice alleged.
The defendants bombarded American consumers with scam calls, causing emotional and financial devastation, including to vulnerable and elderly individuals, said US Attorney Byung J BJay Pak. “Those who facilitate fraudulent calls into the US will be investigated and brought to justice,” he said.
Pak said that Gupta directed and operated E Sampark, doing business as VG-Tech Serve Private Limited, a Voice Over IP (VoIP) company that allegedly sent calls from India-based call centers to victims in the US, both directly and through VoIP providers located in the US. From May 2015 to June 2020, the defendants passed tens of millions of scam calls from India into the US, leading to reported victim losses of over USD 20 million, the complaint alleged.
The callers purported to be legitimate government agencies and businesses misled the victims over the phone. The callers allegedly used multiple frauds, including Social Security impersonation, IRS impersonation and loan scams. As part of a Social Security scam, these India-based callers posed as federal agents in order to mislead victims into believing their Social Security number was involved in crimes, PTI said.
Callers threatened to arrest and the loss of the victims’ assets if the victims did not send money. The callers directed victims to send cash to aliases used by other members of the fraud network and to transfer funds through gift cards to the callers. In one instance in November 2019, the callers kept a Marietta, Georgia woman on the phone for over eleven hours while they convinced her that her Social Security number had been compromised, that there was a warrant for her arrest in Texas and that she should tell no one about the purported investigation.
According to the report, the callers told the victim that her assets were going to be frozen and that she should purchase gift cards in order to protect her money.Per the callers’ directions, the victim went around Cobb County to purchase over USD 35,000 in gift cards, including Target, GameStop, Sephora, and Nordstrom gift cards. The callers had the victim provide them with the numbers on the back of the cards, which allowed them to steal the funds from her. E Sampark and Gupta allegedly connected the victim with the fraudsters.