October 4, 2022

Former Bank Branch Manager Sentenced To Prison For Tech Support Fraud Scheme That Exploited The Elderly | USAO-SDNY

Damian Williams, the United States Legal professional for the Southern District of New York, declared that defendant ARIFUL HAQUE was sentenced to a person year and a single working day in prison for collaborating in a technological aid fraud scheme.  This conspiracy exploited victims, which include aged victims, by remotely accessing their computers and convincing victims to pay out for computer system guidance solutions that they did not have to have, and which were being under no circumstances in fact offered.  As component of this plan, HAQUE registered a purported specialized assistance corporation, which defrauded much more than 100 victims found across the United States and Canada.  HAQUE earlier pled responsible ahead of U.S. District Choose Paul A. Crotty, who imposed today’s sentence.

U.S. Lawyer Damian Williams stated:  “Ariful Haque participated in a conspiracy that brought about pop-up home windows to look on victims’ computers—pop-up home windows that claimed, falsely, that a virus had infected the victim’s computer.  Through this and other misrepresentations, this fraud scheme deceived scores of victims throughout the country into paying out hundreds or hundreds of bucks to the perpetrators for computer aid services they did not have to have.  Many thanks to our partners at Homeland Protection Investigations, this scheme has been dismantled and yet another participant has been sentenced to prison.”

According to the allegations contained in the Superseding Information, court filings, and statements made in court:

From about November 2017 by June 2019, HAQUE was a member of a felony fraud ring (the “Fraud Ring”) dependent in the United States and India that dedicated a complex help fraud scheme that exploited score of victims positioned throughout the United States and Canada, including in the Southern District of New York.  The Fraud Ring’s most important objective was to trick victims into believing that their computer systems had been contaminated with malware, in buy to deceive them into having to pay hundreds or thousands of pounds for phony computer system fix companies. 

The plan frequently worked as follows.  To start with, the Fraud Ring brought about pop-up home windows to appear on victims’ pcs.  The pop-up windows claimed, falsely, that a virus experienced infected the victim’s laptop.  The pop-up window directed the target to connect with a unique phone number to obtain complex assistance.  In at minimum some situations, the pop-up window threatened victims that, if they restarted or shut down their personal computer, it could “cause serious damage to the technique,” including “complete facts decline.”  In an try to give the untrue visual appeal of legitimacy, in some circumstances the pop-up window involved, devoid of authorization, the corporate brand of a effectively-recognized, legitimate technologies business.  In fact, no virus experienced infected victims’ computer systems, and the specialized support cellphone numbers were not connected with the authentic technological know-how enterprise.  Somewhat, these representations had been false and were developed to trick victims into having to pay the Fraud Ring to “fix” a problem that did not exist.  And when the purported “virus” was a hoax, the pop-up window itself did induce several victims’ desktops to fully “freeze,” thus avoiding these victims from accessing the information and documents in their computer—which triggered some victims to contact the cell phone range stated on the pop-up window.  In exchange for victims’ payment of several hundred or thousand dollars (based on the exact “service” victims ordered), the purported technician remotely accessed the victim’s personal computer and ran an anti-virus instrument, which is totally free and obtainable on the Web.  The Fraud Ring also re-victimized several victims, soon after they had manufactured payments to purportedly “fix” their tech troubles.

The Fraud Ring operated by way of at minimum 15 fraudulent entities.  In November 2017, HAQUE registered just one of these fraudulent entities in New York State.  HAQUE’s entity defrauded more than about 100 victims as element of this plan.  As part of his involvement in the fraud, HAQUE opened U.S. financial institution accounts to acquire cash from victims, deposited sufferer checks, gained a sufferer criticism, and consistently offered a co-conspirator in India (“CC-1”) with authentication codes so that CC-1 could wire money out of these bank accounts.  HAQUE, a former bank department supervisor in New York City, also attempted to use his banking experience to further more the plan, including by advising CC-1 that it was “[n]ot a fantastic notion to deposit” specific checks, some of which would hazard the involvement of “the Feds.”  What’s more, on situation, HAQUE also assisted yet another co-conspirator (“CC-2”), who experienced registered a distinctive fraudulent entity that was portion of the Fraud Ring, as very well.  In overall, as he admitted in his plea arrangement, HAQUE is dependable for losses exceeding $600,000.

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In addition to his jail phrase, HAQUE, 36, of Queens, New York, was sentenced to a few several years of supervised launch, forfeiture of $38,886.32, and restitution of $470,672.16.

HAQUE’s co-defendant, Romana Leyva, was previously sentenced to 100 months in jail, three years of supervised launch, forfeiture of $4,679,586.93, and restitution of $2,707,882.91.

Mr. Williams praised the New York Business of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”)’s El Dorado Activity Power, Cyber Intrusion/Cyber Fraud Team for its superb do the job on the investigation.  Mr. Williams also thanked the New York Town Law enforcement Section for its assistance on this circumstance. 

This subject is staying taken care of by the Office’s Elaborate Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant United States Lawyers Michael D. Neff and Jilan J. Kamal are in demand of the prosecution.