Indian-American Businessman Arrested For Money Soliciting Scam

WASHINGTON: An Indian-American businessman from Texas has been arrested by the FBI on charges of engaging in an impersonation and money soliciting scam.

Narasimha Bhogavalli, 50, was arrested on Thursday in Irvin, Texas, where he owns a couple of businesses. He was produced before a local court in Dallas yesterday.

Federal prosecutors alleged that victims from throughout the US were contacted by individuals claiming to be Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents.

They were told that there were outstanding warrants for their arrest and would be sent to jail unless they deposited money orders, and sometimes cash, into bank accounts of the accused and other accounts used by co-conspirators in the scam, a media release said.

A financial analysis of those accounts, according to the complaint, shows that immediately following the deposits made by the victims of the money soliciting scam, the proceeds were wire transferred to other accounts Mr Bhogavalli controlled, where he either spent the funds or wired the funds to accounts in other countries, such as India.

Numerous wire transfers were made in amounts greater than $10,000, it was alleged.

Records indicate Bhogavalli was listed as the Director of Touchstone Commodities, located in Irvin. In account opening documents, Bhogavalli characterised Touchstone Commodities as an “import-export” business. On its website, Touchstone Commodities is “experienced in the global sourcing and supply of many valuable commodities”, including iron ore, steel and wood chips.

Mr Bhogavalli is listed as Chairman of Touchstone Commodities on its website.

As per the complaint, Mr Bhogavalli used at least two Bank of America accounts in the scam, one in the name of Tekdynamics, Inc and the other in the name of Touchstone Commodities, Inc.

The investigation revealed that Mr Bhogavalli also controlled additional accounts used in the money soliciting scam, including a Citibank account held in the name of Touchstone Commodities.