A D.C. man who ran a theft and credit card scam and other fraud schemes from his Rockville business, was sentenced in federal court in Maryland to nine years in prison Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Ellen L Hollander also sentenced Amiee Arora, 32, of Washington, D.C., to pay restitution of $161,782.23 to the State of Maryland for fraudulent unemployment benefits that Arora and his co-conspirators obtained through the scheme, and an additional $41,209.82 to a merchant they defrauded in the credit card scheme.
According to his plea agreement, from Feb. 14, 2010 through Feb. 14, 2011, Arora, through his Rockville-based company Top Of The Line Marketing, Inc., and his co-defendant Vivek Jain, of Gaithersburg, used “identifying information” to fraudulently apply for Maryland unemployment benefits.
Arora taught Jain how to fraudulently apply for the unemployment benefits, which the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation provided to applicants on prepaid debit cards.
According to his plea agreement, once the fraudulent benefits were approved, Arora and Jain changed the mailing address for the cards to mailboxes they rented, then used the cards to withdraw cash from ATMs.
In February 2011, law enforcement officers in Georgia found 42 of the debit cards in Jain’s car.
The officers also found the personal identifying information of about 1,200 Maryland residents from the Eastern Shore, Hagerstown, Baltimore and Gaithersburg, the release said. Arora had obtained the list of individuals from AV Wireless, a telecommunications business that he operated from 2004 through March 2009, and supplied the list to Jain for his use in the scheme, according to his plea agreement.
In total, Arora and Jain obtained unauthorized debit cards worth more than $340,000 in fraudulent unemployment benefits.
Jain, 27, pleaded guilty to his role in the unemployment scheme and is currently awaiting sentencing.
According to Arora’s agreement, between May and August 2011, Arora defrauded a merchant, claiming that he was marketing a shopping club membership for a fee of $9.95. Arora obtained the credit card information of more than 30,000 individuals, to whom he wanted to charge the membership fee. The merchant agreed to allow Arora to use his credit card processing account to “test” about 18,000 card numbers, the plea agreement said, and to charge the membership fee more than 10,000 times. The merchant then forwarded Arora a percentage of each transaction. The credit card and other companies began reversing the fraudulent charges and the merchant ended up being charged more than $40,000 in chargeback fees according to the plea agreement.
Arora was placed on pre-trial release on Aug. 26, 2011. According to his pre-trial release, he had to stay at his parents’ home in Potomac under constant electronic home monitoring. Federal authorities also prohibited him from using a computer to access the Internet.
While on release, Arora bought a cellular telephone in another name and had the phone delivered to his parents’ basement, and used that phone in another scheme to defraud DirecTV, according to his plea agreement.
In that crime, Arora planned to sell DirecTV subscriptions through unsolicited telemarketing, which is illegal. DirecTV dealers would submit his sales as their own, splitting the commission they received with him.
Then, Arora and a co-conspirator assumed the identities of dormant DirecTV dealer accounts to sell subscriptions and keep more of the commission for themselves.
Arora’s spree of schemes ended on Dec. 8, 2011, after federal agents arrested him while he was trying to carry out the DirecTV fraud. During that arrest, authorities found the cell phone he had purchased illegally.