A scammer who defrauded elderly American computer users by tricking them into believing that their computers had suffered a cyber-attack will be spending the next three years in federal prison.
Himanshu Asri, of Delhi, India, took part in a five-year telemarketing scheme that conned around 2,000 computer users, most of whom were seniors.
The 34-year-old fraudster operated the call center in India that played an integral part in the Tech Fraud deception.
Under the scheme, Asri arranged for fraudulent pop-up advertisements to appear on computer users’ screens. The ads falsely claimed that malware had been detected on the computer and advised the user to call a phone number for assistance to remove it.
Users who called the number for help spoke to operators at Asri’s call center and at other call centers based in India. Those operators had been coached to reiterate the lie that malware had been found on the callers’ computers.
Users were offered fictitious computer protection services that would remove the non-existent malware for an exorbitant price.
Those who fell prey to the scam paid on average $482 for computer protection service or assistance that they didn’t need and didn’t receive. In some cases, victims were defrauded of amounts exceeding $1,000.
A spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island said: “From call data obtained for a three-month period, it was estimated that over five years Asri’s scheme led approximately 6,500 people to view Asri’s deceptive pop-up ads and encounter call center operators who made the Tech Fraud pitch. It is estimated that 1,950 of those people fell prey to the Tech Fraud.”
Asri and his co-conspirators tricked their victims into handing over at least $940,995.74. Had all their fraudulent attempts been successful, it’s estimated that the fraudsters’ illegal activity could have defrauded victims out of approximately $3,133,000.
Asri was arrested at the beginning of 2020. On December 3, he pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
On Thursday, the scammer was sentenced in US District Court in Providence to three years in federal prison followed by a period of supervised release.