A New York man has pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of New York to money laundering for his role as the owner and operator of a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) company that facilitated and profited from the introduction fraudulent robocall traffic in the United States.
Jon J. Kahen, 48, of Great Neck, New York, was owner and CEO of Global Voicecom Inc. (GVI), a U.S.-based VoIP provider, from 1999 to 2020. GVI provided voice telecommunications, such as domestic direct inward dialing (DID), toll-free, and call termination platforms and services, which brought foreign telephone traffic into the U.S. telephone system (thus serving as ” gateway carrier”).
As early as 2016 at least, GVI began serving as a gateway operator for an India-based VoIP provider that used GVI’s gateway operator services to route fraudulent robocalls – including but not limited to , US government agency impostor calls made by individuals located in India who fraudulently posed as agents of the IRS, Social Security Administration and Office of the Inspector General of India Social Security Administration (SSA-OIG) – in the US telephone system. This provider also used the DID and toll-free numbers re-leased and/or resold to it by GVI to facilitate various fraudulent robocall scams. American consumers, including the elderly, have been defrauded as a result of these scams.
In 2018, Kahen learned that this India-based VoIP provider was using GVI’s telecommunications services to engage in illegal activities (for example, wire fraud involving fraudulent robocalls), and in May 2019, Kahen knew that the funds paid to GVI by this customer for the continuation of gateway carrier services were the proceeds of illegal activities. Despite this knowledge, Kahen conducted illegal monetary transactions involving these criminal funds.
“American consumers, many of whom are elderly or otherwise vulnerable, are inundated with millions of illegal robocalls every day,” said Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, chief of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. . “Anyone with a phone is a potential target. The Department is committed to ending robocall fraud and prosecuting those who knowingly facilitate robocall fraud schemes for financial gain. »
“This defendant opened the door to foreign fraudsters who exploited the good reputation of our government agencies to target Americans,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman of the Southern District of California. “Let this case be a message to actors in the United States who have facilitated foreign actors and profited from the fraud that they will be held accountable.”
“Mr. Kahen knowingly facilitated robocalls from government impostors who not only defrauded American consumers, but took advantage of their trust in government,” said Inspector General Gail S. Ennis of the Social Security Administration. “We will continue to prosecute those who perpetuate these robocall fraud schemes, and I am grateful to trial attorneys Yolanda McCray Jones and Wei Xiang of the Department of Justice Consumer Protection Branch and attorneys U.S. Special Assistants Jeffrey Hill and Lisa Sanniti of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California for prosecuting this case. I also want to thank all of our law enforcement partners for their contributions to the success of this investigation.
“When consumers — especially our vulnerable older Americans — are exploited by fraudsters posing as a government agency or official, the impact is detrimental and the repercussions are long-lasting,” said Inspector-in-Charge Eric Shen. of the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Postal Inspection Service. . “Anyone who engages in or facilitates deceptive practices like this should know that they will not go unnoticed. Postal inspectors will continue to work tirelessly to hold these criminals accountable and bring justice to the American public.”
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Kahen agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $216,700 to four robocall victims of the wire fraud scheme mentioned above and to further waive $176,000.
The United States previously filed a civil suit in January 2020, alleging Kahen and his companies were responsible for delivering millions of fraudulent robocalls to American consumers. That action also alleged that Kahen and his companies had been repeatedly warned that they were making fraudulent robocalls and continued to do so, facilitating foreign-based fraud schemes targeting individuals in the United States. The civil action sought to enjoin Kahen and his companies from engaging in the ongoing commission of criminal wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In March 2020, Kahen and his companies were permanently banned from operating as intermediary VoIP carriers routing telephone calls to the US telephone system.
Trial Attorneys Yolanda McCray Jones and Wei Xiang of the Justice Department’s Civil Division Consumer Protection Branch and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Hill and Lisa Sanniti of the Southern District of California prosecuted the case.
The case was investigated by agents from the SSA-OIG, US Postal Investigation Service, US Secret Service and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation – El Dorado Task Force. Resources from the Department’s Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force assisted in the investigation and prosecution.
The ministry’s wide-ranging and extensive efforts to combat senior fraud are aimed at halting the widespread losses that seniors suffer from fraud schemes. However, the best method of prevention is to share information about the different types of fraudulent schemes with relatives, friends, neighbors and other seniors who can use this information to protect themselves.
If you or someone you know is aged 60 or over and has been the victim of financial fraud, you can get help from the National Senior Fraud Hotline: 1- 833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This Department of Justice hotline, operated by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the victim’s needs and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to help them report, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who are committing fraud, and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering the losses. The hotline is open seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. ET. English, Spanish and other languages are available.
Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. Information about the Justice Department’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available at www.justice.gov/elderjustice.