Owners of Fresno Debt Consolidation and Repair Businesses Sentenced for Defrauding Distressed Home Owners and Consumer Debtors
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 08, 2013|
FRESNO, CA—United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill sentenced Baljit Singh, 47, and Sharanjit Kaur, 36, both of Fresno, for conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. 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.
According to court documents, 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.
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.”
Singh has been in custody pending sentencing. Kaur was taken into custody today following the sentencing.
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.
This case was done in coordination with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.