Indian national admits conspiring to commit wire fraud in US

New York, March 31 (IANS) An Indian national has pleaded guilty in the US to his role in a conspiracy which resulted in a victim converting her bank account funds into gold after she was tricked into believing that her accounts had been compromised by drug traffickers.
Gaurang Contractor, 38, an Indian citizen living in Jersey City, pleaded guilty this week to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts announced.
According to court documents, a man posing as an agent for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who referred to himself as Oscar White, told the victim in 2022 that her bank accounts had been “compromised” by drug dealers, and directed her to convert her life savings to gold.
White provided the victim with the name of a jewellery store in Hadley where the victim could purchase gold.
He then directed the victim to leave the gold in her unlocked vehicle and promised to send a “court officer” to pick up the gold for safekeeping by the DEA.
The victim became suspicious and contacted law enforcement.
On August 8, 2022, Contractor, unaware that the victim had contacted law enforcement, drove from New Jersey to Hadley and conducted surveillance at the jewellery store.
Unknown to Contractor, a law enforcement officer posing as the victim entered the jewellery store and completed a sham transaction for two buckets worth of gold.
He then followed the victim’s vehicle containing fake gold to a nearby parking lot.
Upon arriving at the meeting location in the parking lot, Contractor removed the two buckets he believed to contain gold from the victim’s vehicle and placed them in his own car.
He was subsequently arrested.
Contractor, whose sentencing is scheduled for May 24, was previously arrested on state charges in August 2022 and later indicted by a federal grant jury in December last year.
The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to a $250,000.

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