POSTED: Sunday, March 30, 2014 - 9:00am
UPDATED: Sunday, March 30, 2014 - 9:09am
LAREDO, TX — Ragavan Thamby, 53, a Canadian citizen, has been sentenced to federal prison following his conviction of one count of conspiracy to commit telemarketing fraud, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Acting Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse of the FBI. Thamby pleaded guilty Aug. 15, 2012.
U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen handed Thamby a sentence of 192 months in federal prison. At the hearing, additional testimony from family members of victims was presented including the effect the telemarketing scheme had on those elderly persons targeted. He was further ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,356,576 to the victims of his crime. In handing down the sentence, Judge Kazen noted, “the scheme was specifically to select older people because they were gullible and more vulnerable.” Judge Kazen further noted Thamby “did real damage.”
“This case demonstrates the FBI's commitment to investigate and prosecute those who are motivated by greed and who seek personal enrichment by defrauding investors,” said Rouse. “This behavior destroys the financial security of hard working individuals in our community.”
According to the plea agreement, between 2003 and 2007, Thamby and his associates contacted elderly Americans via telephone falsely representing to them that they or their deceased spouse had won a lottery or sweepstakes or that they had unclaimed funds. The organization’s telemarketers attempted to befriend these persons through numerous calls and detailed stories. To obtain the winnings, the individuals were informed they would have to send money to pay for taxes, fees and other costs. These identified individuals would send cash or checks, varying from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars without ever receiving their winnings.
This scheme was uncovered when FBI agents identified one such person in Zapata who was asked to send money to a mailbox in Canada. The FBI and Canadian law enforcement tracked this package and Canadian law enforcement observed Thamby pick up the package in Toronto, Canada. At the time of his arrest, Canadian law enforcement seized from Thamby target lists with contact information for individuals, “sucker lists,” checks mailed by targets of the scheme and complaint letters.
As a result of his fraudulent scheme, Thamby or his organization netted approximately $3 million from more than 600 victims.
Thamby will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The case was investigated by various Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies including, the Ontario (Canada) Provincial Police and the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Elizabeth Rabe and former AUSAs Sam Sheldon and Don J. Young.