The FBI is asking any additional victims of a serial conman who defrauded some 22 investors at a Tennessee church of $340,000 to come forward after he pretended, among other things, to be the owner of Disney Animation Studios.
A release from the Department of Justice said Kanwar Sarabjit Singh, a legal permanent resident who is a citizen of India, gained the trust of the pastor and his church in Pigeon Forge in 2012. His victims include elderly members whom he falsely told he owned a small company in India that provided labor for services, including data entry, to two large, international companies. He told them that for a small, upfront investment, they would see a large return on their money.
Singh, 51, who also went by the name Sandy, told his victims several different stories, including that he owned Disney Animation Studios, or that he was making an animated movie for Disney, or that he had a company in India that worked for Disney and Citibank, or that he had a business in Tennessee that set up security cameras in hotel lobbies, Knox News reported.
Court records say he repeatedly convinced his victims to pay him thousands of dollars which they paid in cash or with checks or through wire transfers. They would sometimes even pay money through their pastor who is identified in court records as just "Pastor Mike." His full name and the name of the church are not listed in the records.
Singh strung his victims along with fake letters with Disney and Citibank logos which purportedly showed his ties to those companies. He even signed agreements to repay some of his investors but only managed to return a fraction of what he took in some cases.
The FBI is urging anyone who has been victimized by Singh's fraud scheme to call their Washington Field Office at 202-278-2000.
In a separate case, Singh pleaded guilty on Monday to operating a fraud scheme in which he used Facebook and WhatsApp to scam people seeking to purchase United States visas, the DOJ said.
He reportedly misrepresented himself as an employee of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who worked in the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. He told victims who were impoverished and lived overseas that he could obtain genuine U.S. visas in exchange for a fee of $3,000 to $4,000.
Singh created a fake photo identification document purporting to be from DHS, which he emailed to others as evidence that he was able to obtain U.S. immigration documents. He instructed individuals seeking immigration documents to email him passport photographs, copies of their passports and other personally identifying information and to send him money via overnight delivery service or by wire transfer. After receiving these documents and the requested fee up front, Singh created and emailed fake letters purporting to be from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, which falsely represented that there was an appointment to pick up the requested visa documents.
Singh pleaded guilty to wire fraud and impersonating a federal officer and now faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on Dec. 14.