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Indian National Sentenced To 51 Months In Jail For Defrauding Elderly Woman In US

The court ordered on Wednesday that upon release from custody, Vaid would be remanded to the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement for deportation and ordered Vaid to pay USD 1,236,470 restitution.

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Indian national sentenced to 51 months in jail by a US court for defrauding an elderly American woman
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A 24-year-old Indian national has been sentenced by a US court to 51 months in jail for defrauding an elderly American woman of USD 150,000 through a computer-hacking scheme, a US attorney said.

The defendant, Sukhdev Vaid of Haryana, pleaded guilty in December 2023 to wire fraud. He defrauded the woman through an international computer-hacking scheme that targeted elderly Americans nationwide and resulted in more than USD 1.2 million in total losses, US Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

The court ordered on Wednesday that upon release from custody, Vaid would be remanded to the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement for deportation and ordered Vaid to pay USD 1,236,470 restitution. “It has become all too common for people outside of our country to victimise Montanans, especially as it relates to wire fraud, and get away with it. But not this time. Vaid is going to federal prison due to the sophistication and tenacity of the FBI, for which I am grateful,” Laslovich said.

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"’Phantom Hacker’ scams layer imposter tech support, financial, and government personas to gain access to someone’s computer and personal information. Sadly, these scams are increasingly targeting our seniors. Adding to the depravity of this particular case is that the scammer travelled overseas to collect the victim's money in person,” said Special Agent in Charge Shohini Sinha of the Salt Lake City FBI.

Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino said it is a reminder to all citizens that these scams occur frequently and can be devastating. “I urge everyone to exercise caution; do not allow strangers access to your computer, bank accounts, or personal information,” he said.

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In a statement to the court, the Montana victim said, “I feel very violated…I have crawled into a shell emotionally and don’t want to be vulnerable in any way. I don’t know who I can safely trust now. I don’t feel safe at all.”

A victim from outside Montana wrote to the court, “I’m driving a 2007 car, and this loss has prevented me from affording a new car. The cost of living keeps going up, which doesn’t help when on a fixed income. I’m not sure I will ever have peace of mind again and trust others. This has cost me more than any monetary loss.”

The government alleged in court documents that a large enterprise originating from India was involved in stealing USD 1,236,470 from elderly Americans. The Montana case arose in February 2023, when Glacier Bank notified the FBI that Jane Doe, a 73-year-old woman in Kalispell, had been defrauded.

After learning of the scam, the FBI set up a ruse in which Jane Doe told the fraudsters she still had USD50,000 in cash. The FBI arrested Vaid, along with his co-defendant, Eddly Joseph, of Gainesville, Florida, when they travelled to Montana to collect the money.

The investigation determined that the fraudsters remotely accessed Jane Doe’s computer, using UltraViewer, which they installed on her computer. Joseph was sentenced previously to two years and nine months in prison for his conviction in the case, a media release said.

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