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September 20, 2016Alexandria, VA, United StatesDocument and Benefit Fraud

Ashburn man pleads guilty to international identity theft, money laundering conspiracy

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Ashburn man pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud for his role in a sophisticated and large-scale identity theft and credit card fraud conspiracy. This case was investigated by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service.

According to the court documents, Amit Chaudhry, 44, is an Indian national who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2005.  Beginning in 2011, he was part of a large, international wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy that involved processing stolen credit card numbers and laundering the proceeds through hundreds of bank accounts. Some of these bank accounts were set up in the name of shell companies, which didn’t conduct business. This fraud and money laundering conspiracy was carried out in part by teams of individuals working together in India, the United States, Europe and elsewhere. Some members would obtain personal identifying information of real people, while others would obtain credit card information from actual credit card customers, such as of American Express, and other would electronically process the stolen credit card transactions. Chaudhry helped launder the proceeds of the credit card fraud and assisted co-conspirators who would come to the United States from India to open bank accounts used to hold and receive fraud proceeds.

Chaudhry also helped conceal and launder proceeds from a fraud scheme that targeted customers seeking cheap travel, including airline tickets and hotel reservations. Chaudhry helped promote fraudulent travel websites through mass mailings to prospective customers. Other members of the conspiracy would claim to be prospective travel agents to customers. Customers’ travel itineraries would be purchased with stolen credit cards, which often resulted in those reservations being canceled.  The customer’s money would be held and transferred among bank accounts controlled by members of the conspiracy, including Chaudhry. There were more than 1,000 victims from this fraud, which used various sophisticated means to conceal the identities of the conspirators.

The amount of the fraudulent proceeds generated by the money laundering conspiracy was more than $25 million.

Chaudhry was also involved in a separate money laundering conspiracy with Jacqueline Green-Morris, who previously pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy.  Chaudhry and Green-Morris came up with a fraudulent billing scheme, whereby Chaudhry would submit inflated and fraudulent invoices for IT training to ActioNet, a contractor based in Virginia. Green-Morris used her position as an ActioNet employee to pay these fraudulent invoices. Chaudhry and Green-Morris split the fraud proceeds, which totaled approximately $4.1 million between 2012 and 2016.

From at least 2001 and through at least June 2016, Chaudhry and others conspired to commit visa fraud by submitting false and fraudulent H-1B visa applications by and through various entities that the Chaudhry and others owned and controlled, including Networkxchange, Technologyxchange, Secure Networks, and the Knowledge Center. The conspiracy involved the submission of false and fraudulent applications and supporting documentation to the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Some of these documents were signed using the name John King, a journalist who is CNN’s chief national correspondent.

Chaudhry faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced Jan. 19. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.