Waseem Maknojiya, a Houston resident who is also an Indian national has pled guilty to conspiracy to committing wire fraud. Maknojiya, 37, faces up to 20 years in prison and a possible USD 250,000 maximum fine. His sentencing is scheduled for December 13.
Acting US Attorney Jennifer B Lowery said that between April and October 2019, Maknojiya was involved in a telemarketing scheme via Indian call centres to extort money from victims in the United States.
Maknojiya acted as a runner in these schemes, using aliases and fake identification documents to pick up more than 70 parcels containing cash the scheme’s victims had mailed, he alleged.
One common script used in the scheme involved coercing victims into believing federal agents were investigating them.
The “agent” on the phone would convince the victim the only way to clear his or her name from investigation was to send cash in a parcel shipped through FedEx to a name and address they provided.
Runners in the United States like Maknojiya would then pick up the parcels.
He will remain in custody pending that hearing, Lowery said.