An Indian national admitted today that he conspired with others to devise a scheme to defraud various telephone providers and insurance companies out of millions of dollars by using stolen or fake identities to submit fraudulent claims for replacement cellular devices and then reselling those devices outside the United States, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Parag Bhavsar, 42, of Newark, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit interstate transfer of stolen property.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From June 2013 through June 2019, Bhavsar was involved in a widespread scheme to defraud cellular telephone provider and insurance companies using the U.S. Postal Service mail system, as well as other third-party mail carriers. He and his conspirators used stolen and fake identities to submit false claims of lost, stolen or damaged cellular telephones, as well as other devices, in order to obtain replacement devices. Bhavsar and his conspirators maintained a network of mailboxes and storage units across the United States, including in New Jersey, where the replacement devices would be shipped and then held before being sold to third parties outside the United States. Bhavsar and his conspirators’ scheme resulted in millions of dollars of losses to the cellular telephone providers and insurance companies.
The charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. The charge of conspiracy to commit interstate transfer of stolen goods carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. As part of the plea agreement, Bhavsar will consent to the entry of a forfeiture money judgement of $10.67 million. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 3, 2024.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark and Assistant Director in Charge James Smith in New York, postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Newark, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Christopher A. Nielsen, Philadelphia Division; special agents of Homeland Security Investigations Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel; officers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, New York Field Office, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Frank Russo; and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, New York Field Office, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Kelly Bishop, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachelle M. Navarro of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Newark.