Second Owner of Debt Consolidation and Repair Business Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Customers
|U.S. Attorney’s Office February 04, 2013|
FRESNO, CA—Baljit Singh, 47, of Fresno, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to the plea agreement, from approximately July 2010 to June 2011, Singh and co-defendant Sharanjit Kaur, 36, owned and operated several companies based in Fresno for the sole purpose of defrauding hundreds of customers located throughout the United States. According to court documents, the defendants, through their companies Consumer Financial Services, Consumer Credit Repair, and Client Financial Services, 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 payments, replace high-interest credit cards with low-interest ones, and correct errors in credit reports. The defendants used 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, Singh and his 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 defendants and their agents would either hang up on customers or request that customers continue to make service payments. The funds received from customers were used for the defendants’ own benefit or wired to an individual located in Kolkata, India.
As part of the plea agreements, both Singh and Kaur agreed to forfeit $26,943 from bank accounts and a residence owned by Kaur. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has also initiated separate civil actions to recover funds wired by the defendants to India.
Kaur pleaded guilty to the charges on January 16, 2013. She is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on April 8, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. Singh is scheduled to be sentenced on the same day. Both defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fresno Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Grant B. Rabenn is prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Jones is assisting with the civil actions.