BEAUMONT, Texas — An Indian citizen living in Seattle, WA, has pleaded guilty to federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas, acting US Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei announced.
Aakash Gandhi, 28, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud before US District Judge Marcia A. Crone today.
According to information presented in court, during the month of October 2020, a Beaumont resident received multiple calls from a person – later identified as Gandhi – who falsely claimed to be a special agent with the Social Security Administration. Gandhi demanded that the victim send large sums of cash in the mail so they could get a new Social Security number and avoid alleged criminal liability. The elderly Beaumont resident fell victim to the scam and sent more than $20,000 cash by mail to a UPS store in Seattle upon request. Gandhi received those packages in Seattle and forwarded some of those funds to his co-conspirators.
“There is no question that phone scams are not just a nuisance, but a real threat to the financial livelihoods of all Americans,” said acting US attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “While phone scams continue to grow, EDTX is scaling up through staffing and training to meet and beat this challenge.”
“Criminals continue to exploit the elderly and vulnerable populations in search of profit. HSI is committed to bringing these fraudsters to justice and returning hard-earned money.” said Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “This should serve as a reminder that the US government will never call and ask you to send cash in the mail.”
Gandhi was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 8, 2021. He faces up to 20 years in prison. The maximum legal penalty prescribed by Congress is provided here for informational purposes, as sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other legal factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of an attendance screening by the U.S. Probation Office.
If you or someone you know is 60 years of age or older and has been the victim of financial fraud, please contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). Operated by the Office for Victims of Crime, this United States Department of Justice hotline is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the victim’s needs and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to help them report, connect callers directly to the appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses as a result of fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is manned Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time. English, Spanish and other languages are available.
The case is under investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Jonathan C. Lee.