US call centre fraud: Indian-origin man Baljit Singh pleads guilty

Call centre

An Indian-origin man has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit fraud under which he used a call centre in India to defraud hundreds of individuals across the US.

Baljit Singh, 47 of California would be sentenced on April 8 and could also be slapped with a $500,000 fine, US Attorney Benjamin Wagner said. He faces 20 years in prison.

According to Singh's plea agreement, between 2010 and 2011, Singh and co-defendant Sharanjit Kaur, 36, owned and operated several companies based in California for the purpose of defrauding hundreds of customers located throughout the US.

The two falsely promised that the companies offered debt consolidation services like low-interest loans for customers, assist in avoiding lawsuits, lower car payments and replace high-interest credit cards with low-interest ones.

The two used a call center in India from which individuals would call customers under fake names.

After luring customers into using these services, Singh and his 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, India.

Singh and Kaur agreed to forfeit over USD 26,000 from bank accounts and a residence owned by Kaur.

The US Attorney's Office has also initiated separate civil actions to recover funds wired by the defendants to India.

Kaur had pleaded guilty to the charges last month and is scheduled to be sentenced on the same day as Singh.

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