Mar. 10, 2023 By Bill Parry
Federal agents met a Rego Park man as he deplaned his flight from India at JFK International Airport late last month. According to U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, he was taken into custody for allegedly defrauding his former employer out of millions of dollars in a fake invoice scheme.
Bhaskarry Barot, 32, of Booth Street, was hauled before a magistrate judge in Manhattan federal court hours later on a criminal complaint charging him with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
According to the allegations contained in the complaint, which was unsealed on Feb. 24, from July 2018 to August 2022, Barot engaged in a scheme to defraud his former company of $4.4 million through unauthorized credit card charges and fake invoices designed to resemble those received from legitimate vendors.
Barot used his position as a procurement manager to process the fraudulent invoices for payment. He often affixed the fake invoices to email messages that he sent in the names of employees of the unnamed company’s real vendors so it would appear as though the real vendors were seeking payment on the fake invoices. This stated that payment should be made to entities with names that often differed slightly from those of the real vendor companies.
Barot then incorporated companies and opened bank accounts in the names of some of the entities listed for payment on the fake invoices so that he could collect the payments the company made on the fake invoices.
According to federal prosecutors, Barot repeated the fraudulent tactics with more than a dozen fictitious entities and caused payment to be made by the company on approximately 40 fake invoices, totaling $4.4 million.
“As alleged, Barot designed the invoices to closely resemble the invoices that the company received from real vendors and other entities owed payment from the company. But the fraudulent invoices differed in a crucial way: they directed payment into Barot’s pocket,” Williams said. “[This] arrest demonstrates that this office will seek justice for companies that fall victim to corporate theft.”
Williams praised the “outstanding investigative work” of the FBI.
“Barot operated a years-long deception, scamming his employer out of millions of dollars through bogus invoices,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said. “Duplicitous schemes like this bring undue harm to the greater financial community. The FBI will continue investigating complex financial crimes and hold the transgressors accountable in the criminal justice system.”
The wire fraud charge carries a mandatory potential sentence of 20 years in prison. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.