Family Loyalty

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In some families, loyalty runs deep ,so deep that members are willing to risk committing crimes to remain a part of the family unit. One man ‘s family loyalty caused him to commit multiple types of fraud, including the creation of a fraudulent passport using the image of a well-known actress. The bogus document was used to carry out part of an international credit card fraud scheme operated by his family.

The man at the center of today ‘s case emigrated from India more than two decades ago. His job within the dysfunctional family business was to help his foreign relatives operate a multi-million dollar scam involving laundering money stolen from credit cards, along with identities through shell bank accounts. (The scam involved cheap travel packages that didn’t deliver on their promises.)

Here ‘s how the scam worked. More than 1,000 victims bought into various travel packages. (The family took the customers’ money and paid for airfare and hotel costs with stolen credit cards.) Many of the 1,000 victims went on their trips, only to find parts of their vacations cancelled after the fraudulent charges were discovered. (When credit card charges were challenged, the family used fake passports to back up their claims.) The family supposedly made a profit of $25 million from the fake credit card scam, which was enabled by a co-conspirator who worked at a major credit card company ‘s office in India.

The family scam was revealed when an FBI agent realized that one of the passport photos was of a well-known actress that ironically was taken during an episode involving visas. (It is interesting that he picked a famous person instead of a John or Jane Doe. Perhaps he got a little full of himself.) This was not the only scam he was involved with. He also took part in multiple visa fraud and embezzlement schemes. One scam involved sending inflated, fake invoices for information technology services to a company, resulting in a profit of $4.1 million.

The 44-year-old man from Virginia pleaded guilty to identity theft, money laundering and visa fraud. Although he was facing up to 20 years in prison, he only got nine years. (Most likely he received a shorter sentence because he cooperated with authorities to find additional victims and co-conspirators. To date, five co-conspirators have pleaded guilty and two arrests were made in India.)

During the trial, he mentioned that he had never dreamt of being a felon. (Does anyone?) He also said that it would haunt him for the rest of his life. (Isn’t that what prison records do?) The fraudster also complained that his cooperation caused him to be the target of verbal and physical harassment behind bars.

Source: Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Indian immigrant sentenced to 9 years in federal prison for multi-million dollar fraud scheme,” published by The Washington Post on March 2, 2017.

Amit Chaudhry said it was family loyalty that brought him into an international identity-theft scheme so vast that it ensnared a television actress.

“I never really dreamt of being a felon,” the 44-year-old from Ashburn, Va., said in federal court in Alexandria on Thursday before being sentenced to nine years in prison. “This is going to haunt me for the rest of my life.”

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.