New York Man Pleads Guilty to Laundering Proceeds from Government Impostor Robocall Scam
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California:
SAN DIEGO – Jon J. Kahen of Great Neck, New York, pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to four counts of money laundering in his role as a telecommunications company owner who facilitated and profited from the introduction of fraudulent robocall traffic into the United States.
Until 2020, Kahen was the owner and chief executive officer of Global Voicecom, Inc. (“GVI”), a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) provider based in Great Neck, New York. GVI provided telecommunications services that introduced foreign phone traffic into the U.S. telephone system, making GVI a “gateway carrier.” From approximately 2016 until a search warrant was executed at his home in January 2020, GVI was a gateway carrier for an India-based VoIP company that used GVI to route millions of fraudulent robocalls to American consumers. Many of these robocalls involved individuals based in India fraudulently impersonating agents of the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA/OIG), and the Internal Revenue Service. In addition to connecting these foreign callers to American consumers, GVI resold and leased to the Indian VoIP company with Direct Inward Dial and toll-free telephone numbers that made them appear to be based in the United States. As a result of GVI’s actions, thousands of Americans were defrauded.
In his plea agreement, Kahen admitted that by 2018 he had become aware that his Indian client was using GVI’s services to commit fraud, and that by May 2019, Kahen was aware that the funds paid to GVI by this client for continued gateway carrier services were the proceeds of this fraud. Despite this knowledge, Kahen and GVI continued to provide telecommunications services to the Indian client and conducted monetary transactions on the client’s behalf. This criminal conduct ended only with the filing of a civil injunction in January 2020, when Kahen and GVI were enjoined from operating as intermediate VoIP carriers conveying any telephone calls into the U.S. telephone system.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Kahen has agreed to pay almost $400,000 in criminal forfeiture and restitution to victims of fraudulent robocalls connected by GVI.
“This defendant opened the door to foreign fraudsters who exploited the good name of our government agencies to target Americans,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “Let this case be a message to players in the United States who have been facilitating foreign actors and profiting from the fraud that they will be held accountable.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team, the Department of Justice Consumer Protection Branch and investigating agencies for their excellent work on this case.
“U.S. consumers, many of whom are elderly or are otherwise vulnerable, are inundated with millions of illegal robocalls every day,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Anyone with a telephone is a potential target. The Department is committed to stopping fraudulent robocalls and pursuing those who knowingly facilitate robocall fraud schemes for financial gain.”
“Mr. Kahen knowingly facilitated the robocalls of government imposters that not only defrauded U.S. consumers, but preyed on their trust in the government,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “We will continue to pursue those who perpetuate these robocall fraud schemes, and I appreciate the trial attorneys, Yolanda McCray Jones and Wei Xiang, of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys, 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 our law enforcement partners for their contributions to the success of this investigation.”
“When consumers – especially our vulnerable older Americans – are exploited by fraudsters who are impersonating a government agency or official, the impact is detrimental and the repercussions are long-lasting,” said Inspector in Charge Eric Shen of the Postal Inspection Service’s Criminal Investigations Group. “Anyone who engages in or facilitates deceptive practices like this should know they will not go undetected. Postal Inspectors will continue to work tirelessly to hold those criminals accountable and bring justice to the American public.”
Criminal charges against Kahen were filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California on June 30, 2022, and transferred to the Eastern District of New York. Kahen is scheduled to be sentenced on January 20, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert in the Islip, New York federal courthouse.
This case was prosecuted for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California by Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Hill and Lisa Sanniti, and for the United States Department of Justice Consumer Protection Branch by Trial Attorneys Yolanda McCray Jones and Wei Xiang.
The matter was investigated by agents from SSA-OIG, the U.S. Postal Investigation Service, the U.S. Secret Service, and by Homeland Security Investigations-New York. Resources from the Department’s Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force aided in the matter’s investigation and prosecution.