Baljit Singh, 47, and Sharanjit Kaur, 36, both of Fresno, California, were sentenced by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill sentenced for conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud. Judge O’Neill sentenced Singh to 51 months in federal prison and Kaur to 41 months in federal prison. Judge O’Neill also ordered the forfeiture of a property in New York owned by Kaur with more than $100,000 in equity and $26,943.20 from two bank accounts held by Singh and Kaur.
As previously reported by Mortgage Fraud Blog, and according to the indictment, which both Singh and Kaur pleaded guilty, from approximately July 2010 to June 2011, Kaur and Singh owned and operated several companies based in Fresno for the sole purpose of defrauding at least 180 customers throughout the United States. Through their companies Consumer Financial Services, Consumer Credit Repair, and Client Financial Services, they touted to potential customers that these businesses could provide debt consolidation services. The defendants also falsely promised that they could obtain low-interest loans for customers, assist in avoiding lawsuits, lower car and mortgage payments, replace high-interest credit cards with low-interest ones and correct errors in credit reports. The defendants utilized a call center in India from which individuals would call customers under aliases such as “Neil McKenzie” or “Anthony Jones.”
After luring customers into using these purported services, they and their agents instructed customers to send in monthly payments of $500 or more. Even though they collected regular payments from customers, no creditors were contacted on behalf of customers as promised. To mislead customers, forged letters from creditors were sent, indicating that loan modifications had been approved. When customers would contact the debt repair companies about late-payment or default notices they had received from their creditors, the defendant and his agents would either hang up on customers or request that customers continue to make service payments. The funds received from customers were used for their own benefit or wired to an individual located in Kolkata, India.
Singh has been in custody pending sentencing. Kaur was taken into custody today following the sentencing.
United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced the sentences.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fresno Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Grant B. Rabenn prosecuted the case.
U.S. Attorney Wagner said: “The defendants in this case shamelessly ripped off scores of people who were already struggling financially. Few white-collar crimes are more deplorable. Prosecuting those who prey on distressed homeowners and other vulnerable consumers is an important part of our mission, and we will continue to seek prison terms for those who stoop to such conduct.”
“Financial crimes such as these are borne from greed and disregard for the victims the criminals claim to serve,” said Herbert M. Brown, Special Agent in Charge of the Sacramento Division of the FBI. “The FBI encourages victims of financial crime to contact law enforcement to ensure full investigation of the alleged fraud and to avoid victimization of others.”