By Brecken Branstrator
brecken.branstrator@nationaljeweler.com
Trenton, N.J.--Two owners of a New Jersey jewelry store involved in one of the largest credit card schemes ever investigated by the U.S. Justice Department have been sentenced.

Vijay Verma, 49, and Tarsem Lal, 78, both from Iselin, New Jersey, were indicted in October 2013 for being implicit in a scheme in which the perpetrators created more than 7,000 false identities and used them to obtain tens of thousands of credit cards.

The owners of Raja Jewelers in Jersey City previously pleaded guilty to one count of access device fraud before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey--Lal in April 2014 and Verma in June 2014.

They are just two of more than a dozen defendants who have been charged in the case, which is one of the largest credit card fraud schemes in U.S. history.

On Monday, Verma was sentenced Monday to 14 months in prison while Lal got 12 months of home confinement, according to the Justice Department.

In addition, Judge Thompson gave Verma three years of supervised release and Lal got three years of probation. Each defendant also was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay forfeiture of $451,259.

The phone number listed for the store was disconnected when National Jeweler tried to call Thursday morning.

The Justice Department said the scheme involved a three-step process.


First, the defendants would make up a false identity by creating fraudulent identification documents and a fraudulent credit profile with major credit bureaus.

They would then boost the credit of the false identities by providing false information about creditworthiness to credit bureaus. Finally, they ran up large charges on these credit cards, which belonged to people who didn’t exist, and never paid off their debts.

Verma and Lal both admitted to allowing certain participants of the scheme to use credit cards they knew were fraudulent in their New Jersey store. They then would split the proceeds of the phony transactions with the other conspirators. Such debts also were incurred at a number of other businesses in the area.

The Justice Department said the scheme required other participants to aid Verma and Lal by helping them to create a network of false identities. Across the country, Verma and Lal maintained more than 1,800 “drop addresses,” including houses, apartments and P.O. boxes, which were used as the mailing addresses for the false identities.

Their actions led to more than $200 million in confirmed losses to businesses and financial institutions.


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