The two owners of a New Jersey jewelry store who used the business to carry out one of the largest credit card fraud schemes ever charged by the Justice Department were both sentenced March 27, for their roles in the scheme.
Vijay Verma, 49, and Tarsem Lal, 78, both of Iselin, New Jersey, were sentenced to 14 months in prison and 12 months of home confinement, respectively. In addition to the prison terms, Judge Thompson sentenced Verma to three years of supervised release and Lal to three years of probation. Each defendant was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay forfeiture of $451,259.
The two jewelry store owners earlier pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton federal court to charges of one count of access device fraud. Verma and Lal were indicted in October 2013 as part of a scheme to fabricate more than 7,000 false identities to obtain tens of thousands of credit cards. Several other participants of Indian and South Asian origin were involved in that scheme.
Those accused of masterminding the scheme, doctored credit reports to pump up the spending and borrowing power associated with the cards. They then borrowed or spent as much as they could, based on the phony credit history, but did not repay the debts – causing more than $200 million in confirmed losses to businesses and financial institutions.
These debts were incurred at Verma’s jewelry store, among many other locations, where Verma would allow fraudulently obtained credit cards to be swiped in phony transactions.The scope of the criminal fraud enterprise required other scheme participants to construct an elaborate network of false identities. Across the country, they maintained more than 1,800 “drop addresses,” including houses, apartments and post office boxes, which they used as the mailing addresses for the false identities.
Verma and Lal each admitted allowing others who came to their Jersey City, New Jersey, store, to swipe cards they knew did not legitimately belong to them. Verma and Lal would then split the proceeds of the phony transactions with these other conspirators.