A native of India, Amit Chaudhry has been found guilty of money laundering and international theft scheme. He has been sentenced to nine years in prison and fined USD 4.1 million to repay to ActionNet company.
Before being sentenced on Thursday, the 44-year-old said, “I never really dreamt of being a felon. This is going to haunt me for the rest of my life.”
Chaudhry had emigrated to the US in 1992 and said it was family loyalty that brought him in an international identity theft scheme so vast it ensnared a television actress.
His scheme was uncovered by an FBI agent who recognised the actress Laura Vandervoort in one of the passports Amit was using to operate the multimillion-dollar scam that involved laundering money from stolen credit cards and identities through shell bank accounts.
As per the authorities, the image of the actress helped make clear some of the group's online behaviour Amit was working with. He was part of a related scheme advertising cheap travel packages. Customers' money would be stolen, and their hotel and airfare would be paid for with stolen credit cards. Many of the more than 1,000 victims found parts of their trips cancelled after the fraudulent charges were discovered.
The group made over USD25 million off fake credit cards, helped by a co-conspirator working at American Express in India. When their charges were challenged, they would use images of fake passports to back them up.
Chaudhry's attorneys said he was acting at the behest of relatives in India.
Defence attorney Danny Onorato said, “This was all done out of family loyalty.”
Onorato said Chaudhry has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, which might help explain his behaviour.
Assistant US attorney Katherine Wong protested, "Asperger's doesn't cause anyone to steal or open credit card accounts in someone else's name."
The authorities are still tracking down co-conspirators and still finding more victims in the United States and abroad. Two have been arrested in India and five co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty in Alexandria.