‘Indian-origin woman HR manager convicted in H1-B visa fraud’

New York: An Indian-origin human resource manager has become the third person connected with two outsourcing companies to be convicted of H1-B visa fraud in a scheme that also ripped off tech employees, according to Paul Fishman, the federal prosecutor for New Jersey.

Hiral Patel, who worked for SCM Data and MMC System, admitted her guilt before federal judge Kevin McNulty in Newark, New Jersey, on Tuesday, prosecutors said. She was found guilty of obstructing justice in connection with the scheme. Patel, 32, was arrested in May.

Sunila Dutt, a lawyer in Virginia, was convicted of involvement in the fraud in October.

In December, Hari Karne, the immigration manager for an Indian company was found guilty in the same scheme. Prosecutors said that he was from Hyderabad and worked for SCM Private Limited in India, which had agreements with SCM Data and MMC System to provide staff.

Sowrabh Sharma, the New York-based owner of the two companies was arrested in September and Shikha Mohta, 31, of Jersey City who was the head of finance for the two companies, in May and both have been charged with fraud in the scheme, according to prosecutors.

The two companies recruited student visa holders or recent graduates as consultants, obtained H1-B visas meant for professionals with specialised skills and placed them with other companies requiring information technology support, according to the prosecution.

Under the terms of the H1-B visas, the consultants had to be given full-time positions and paid an agreed salary. But they were paid only when they were working at the third party companies that contracted with them, the prosecution said.

To show the government they were being paid as full-time employees, they were asked to give SCM and MMC cash equal to the salaries for periods they were not at the third party companies and their employer, the two outsourcing companies, did not pay them, according to the prosecution.

The two companies then issued them checks for those amounts, which they were made to show to the immigration authorities as proof they were working full time and receiving the wages they were supposed to for the H1-B visas, the prosecution said.

Prosecutors said in December that there were six co-conspirators in the scheme, but did not identify them.

SCM Data is based in New Jersey and MMC System is headquartered in Virginia.