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

Damian Williams, the United States Lawyer for the Southern District of New York, announced that defendant ARIFUL HAQUE was sentenced to a single year and a person day in prison for taking part in a complex support fraud scheme.  This conspiracy exploited victims, such as elderly victims, by remotely accessing their desktops and convincing victims to pay out for computer aid services that they did not want, and which ended up never truly presented.  As portion of this plan, HAQUE registered a purported technical assist company, which defrauded far more than 100 victims located throughout the United States and Canada.  HAQUE beforehand pled guilty just before U.S. District Decide Paul A. Crotty, who imposed today’s sentence.

U.S. Legal professional Damian Williams claimed:  “Ariful Haque participated in a conspiracy that caused pop-up windows to show up on victims’ computers—pop-up windows that claimed, falsely, that a virus experienced infected the victim’s laptop or computer.  Through this and other misrepresentations, this fraud plan deceived scores of victims across the region into having to pay hundreds or countless numbers of bucks to the perpetrators for pc guidance providers they did not need to have.  Many thanks to our partners at Homeland Security Investigations, this scheme has been dismantled and a further participant has been sentenced to jail.”

According to the allegations contained in the Superseding Information and facts, court filings, and statements built in court docket:

From approximately November 2017 as a result of June 2019, HAQUE was a member of a prison fraud ring (the “Fraud Ring”) primarily based in the United States and India that fully commited a technical help fraud plan that exploited rating of victims found across the United States and Canada, which include in the Southern District of New York.  The Fraud Ring’s major objective was to trick victims into believing that their personal computers were being infected with malware, in order to deceive them into shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars for phony pc mend companies. 

The plan usually worked as follows.  1st, the Fraud Ring caused pop-up windows to surface on victims’ desktops.  The pop-up home windows claimed, falsely, that a virus had infected the victim’s computer.  The pop-up window directed the victim to call a specific phone quantity to attain technological assist.  In at the very least some cases, the pop-up window threatened victims that, if they restarted or shut down their laptop, it could “cause significant hurt to the technique,” such as “complete details decline.”  In an attempt to give the fake visual appeal of legitimacy, in some cases the pop-up window integrated, with out authorization, the company emblem of a very well-identified, legitimate technology firm.  In point, no virus experienced infected victims’ computers, and the technical help phone numbers were being not linked with the legitimate know-how enterprise.  Relatively, these representations had been untrue and have been created to trick victims into having to pay the Fraud Ring to “fix” a issue that did not exist.  And even though the purported “virus” was a hoax, the pop-up window itself did lead to numerous victims’ computer systems to wholly “freeze,” thereby avoiding these victims from accessing the data and data files in their computer—which brought on some victims to contact the mobile phone range shown on the pop-up window.  In trade for victims’ payment of numerous hundred or thousand dollars (relying on the specific “service” victims procured), the purported technician remotely accessed the victim’s laptop and ran an anti-virus resource, which is no cost and readily available on the World-wide-web.  The Fraud Ring also re-victimized a variety of victims, following they had produced payments to purportedly “fix” their tech problems.

The Fraud Ring operated as a result of at the very least 15 fraudulent entities.  In November 2017, HAQUE registered just one of these fraudulent entities in New York Condition.  HAQUE’s entity defrauded more than somewhere around 100 victims as portion of this plan.  As portion of his involvement in the fraud, HAQUE opened U.S. bank accounts to acquire resources from victims, deposited victim checks, gained a sufferer criticism, and repeatedly supplied a co-conspirator in India (“CC-1”) with authentication codes so that CC-1 could wire cash out of these financial institution accounts.  HAQUE, a former financial institution department supervisor in New York Town, also tried to use his banking practical experience to even further the plan, such as by advising CC-1 that it was “[n]ot a good thought to deposit” certain checks, some of which would risk the involvement of “the Feds.”  In addition, on celebration, HAQUE also assisted a different co-conspirator (“CC-2”), who experienced registered a diverse fraudulent entity that was aspect of the Fraud Ring, as well.  In complete, as he admitted in his plea settlement, HAQUE is liable for losses exceeding $600,000.

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In addition to his jail phrase, HAQUE, 36, of Queens, New York, was sentenced to 3 years of supervised release, forfeiture of $38,886.32, and restitution of $470,672.16.

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

Mr. Williams praised the New York Place of work of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Stability Investigations (“HSI”)’s El Dorado Endeavor Force, Cyber Intrusion/Cyber Fraud Group for its superb work on the investigation.  Mr. Williams also thanked the New York Metropolis Law enforcement Section for its assistance on this circumstance. 

This issue is staying handled by the Office’s Sophisticated Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D. Neff and Jilan J. Kamal are in demand of the prosecution.