CHICAGO, ILLINOIS — A suburban Chicago man has pleaded guilty in federal court to laundering cash proceeds from a telemarketing scheme that defrauded elderly victims.
HIRENKUMAR P. CHAUDHARI, 27, of Des Plaines, Ill., pleaded guilty on Jan. 6, 2021, to one count of money laundering. The conviction is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Sara L. Ellis set sentencing for April 1, 2021.
The guilty plea was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; J. Russell George, Inspector General of the Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration; William Hedrick, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago; Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General of the Social Security Administration; and James M. Gibbons, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kartik K. Raman and Rick D. Young.
Chaudhari admitted in a plea agreement that he used a phony Indian passport, false name, and false address to open multiple bank accounts in the United States to receive money from victims of the telemarketing scheme. The scheme involved phone calls from people falsely claiming to be associated with, among other agencies, the Social Security Administration and U.S. Department of Justice, stating that a victim’s identity had been stolen and that it was necessary to transfer money to various bank accounts, including the accounts opened by Chaudhari. One of the victims was an elderly woman from Massachusetts who transferred a total of more than $900,000 from her bank and retirement accounts to accounts controlled by Chaudhari or others.
On April 19, 2018 – one day after Chaudhari opened an account and received a $7,000 transfer from the Massachusetts victim – Chaudhari entered a bank branch in Chicago and withdrew $6,500, the plea agreement states. Chaudhari admitted in the plea agreement that he engaged in this financial transaction knowing that the money represented proceeds of unlawful activity.
If you believe you or someone you know is a victim of elder fraud, complaints may be filed with the Federal Trade Commission online at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov, or by calling 877-FTC-HELP. More information about the Department of Justice’s efforts to help seniors is available at its Elder Justice Initiative webpage.