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Indian Hacker Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison for Defrauding US Woman of Rs 1.23 Crore

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A 24-year-old from India, Sukhdev Vaid, has been sentenced to 51 months in prison by a US court for his role in defrauding an elderly American woman out of $150,000 through a computer hacking scheme. Vaid, from Haryana, India, pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in December 2023. Prosecutors allege he participated in a larger scheme targeting elderly Americans nationwide, resulting in over $1.2 million in total losses.

The court has also ordered that upon release from custody, Vaid will be remanded to the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement for deportation and ordered to pay $1,236,470 in restitution.

US Attorney Laslovich stated, “It has become all too common for people outside of our country to victimize Americans, especially as it relates to wire fraud, and get away with it. But not this time. Vaid will be going to federal prison due to the sophistication and tenacity of the FBI, for which I am grateful. We will continue to be relentless in tracking down these criminals who prey on our trusting impulses, and we are confident such efforts will result in these fraudsters ending up in the same place as Vaid.”

The Special Agent in Charge Shohini Sinha of the Salt Lake City FBI added, “‘Phantom Hacker’ scams layer imposter tech support, financial, and government personas to gain access to someone’s computer and personal information. Sadly, these scams are increasingly targeting our seniors. Adding to the depravity of this particular case is that the scammer traveled overseas to collect the victim’s money in person. To protect yourself, never click on unsolicited pop-ups or links sent by text message or email, don’t download software at the request of someone you don’t know, and always remember that the government and law enforcement will never call and ask you for money.”

The victim, a 73-year-old woman in Kalispell, Montana, expressed the emotional toll of the crime in a statement to the court, saying, “I feel very violated…I have crawled into a shell emotionally and don’t want to be vulnerable in any way. I don’t know who I can safely trust now. I don’t feel safe at all.”

The government alleged in court documents that a large enterprise originating from India stole $1,236,470 from elderly Americans. The Montana case arose in February 2023, when Glacier Bank notified the FBI that Jane Doe had been defrauded. Jane Doe was tricked into giving money through a pop-up notice that appeared on her computer screen, claiming she had been “hacked.” The fraudsters directed Jane Doe to remove cash from her bank accounts for safekeeping at the “Fed,” resulting in $150,000 being given to the fraudsters.

After learning of the scam, the FBI set up a ruse in which Jane Doe told the fraudsters she still had $50,000 in cash. As a result, the FBI arrested Vaid and his co-defendant, Eddly Joseph, of Gainesville, Florida, when they traveled to Montana to collect the money. The investigation determined that the fraudsters remotely accessed Jane Doe’s computer using UltraViewer, which they installed on her computer.

Previously, Joseph was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison for his conviction in the case. Vaid’s sentencing marks a significant step in holding those responsible for cyber fraud and hacking schemes accountable.

The case serves as a reminder to be vigilant and cautious when encountering unsolicited requests for money or financial information, as well as a warning to those who engage in fraudulent activities that they will be pursued and brought to justice.

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