A New York man 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 of fraudulent robocall traffic into the United States.
Jon J. Kahen, 48, of Great Neck, New York, was the owner and chief executive officer of Global Voicecom Inc. (GVI), a U.S.-based VoIP provider, from 1999 to 2020. GVI provided telecommunications services, such as calling platforms and domestic direct inward dial (DID), toll-free, and call termination services, that introduced foreign phone traffic into the U.S. telephone system (thereby serving as a so-called “gateway carrier”).
Beginning at least as early as 2016, GVI began serving as a gateway carrier for an India-based VoIP provider that used GVI’s gateway carrier services to route fraudulent robocalls – including, but not limited to, U.S. government agency imposter calls placed by individuals located in India who were fraudulently impersonating agents of the IRS, Social Security Administration, and Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG) – into the U.S. telephone system. This provider also used the DID and toll-free numbers re-leased and/or re-sold to it by GVI to facilitate various fraudulent robocall scams. U.S. consumers, including the elderly, were defrauded as a result of these scams.
By 2018, Kahen became aware that this India-based VoIP provider was using GVI’s telecommunications services to engage in unlawful activities (e.g., wire fraud involving fraudulent robocalls), and by May 2019, Kahen was aware that the funds paid to GVI by this client for continued gateway carrier services constituted the proceeds of unlawful activities. Despite this knowledge, Kahen conducted unlawful monetary transactions involving these criminally derived funds.
“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 M. 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.”
“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 for the Southern District of California. “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.”
“Mr. Kahen knowingly facilitated the robocalls of government imposters who not only defrauded U.S. consumers, but preyed on their trust in the government,” said Inspector General Gail S. Ennis for the Social Security Administration. “We will continue to pursue those who perpetuate these robocall fraud schemes, and I am grateful to 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.”
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Kahen agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $216,700 to four robocall victims of the above-referenced wire fraud scheme and to additionally forfeit $176,000.
The United States previously filed a civil action in January 2020, alleging that Kahen and his corporations were responsible for carrying millions of fraudulent robocalls to American consumers. This action also alleged that Kahen and his corporations were warned numerous times that they were carrying fraudulent robocalls and yet continued to do so, thereby facilitating foreign-based fraud schemes targeting individuals in the United States. The civil action sought to enjoin Kahen and his corporations from engaging in the ongoing commission of criminal wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In March 2020, Kahen and his corporations were permanently enjoined from operating as intermediate VoIP carriers conveying any telephone calls into the U.S. telephone system.
Trial Attorneys Yolanda McCray Jones and Wei Xiang of the Justice Department’s Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Hill and Lisa Sanniti of for the Southern District of California prosecuted the case.
The matter was investigated by agents from the SSA-OIG, U.S. Postal Investigation Service, U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation – El Dorado Task Force. Resources from the Department’s Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force aided in the matter’s investigation and prosecution.
The department’s extensive and broad-based efforts to combat elder fraud seek to halt the widespread losses seniors suffer from fraud schemes. The best method for prevention, however, is by sharing information about the various types of elder fraud schemes with relatives, friends, neighbors and other seniors who can use that information to protect themselves.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This Department of Justice hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, 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 commit fraud, and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is staffed 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 may be found at www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. Information about the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available at www.justice.gov/elderjustice.