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Former IT staffing exec gets more than seven years in prison; must pay $1.1 million in restitution

October 08, 2019

An IT staffing firm executive was sentenced to more than seven years in prison last month for mail fraud and tax crimes and must pay more than $1.1 million restitution, the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington reported.

“This was the largest and most sophisticated H-1B visa fraud scheme we have prosecuted in Western Washington,” US Attorney Brian Moran said. “The fraud harmed the workers who wound up far from home, essentially ‘benched’ by the company, with no pay and no job. It harmed foreign workers who legitimately sought, but could not get visas, and it harmed US workers who were excluded from employment opportunities.”

Pradyumna Kumar Samal was CEO of IT staffing firms Divensi and Azimetry; the firms’ “bench-and-switch” scheme affected more than 250 foreign workers, according to the US Attorney’s Office.

Samal had his employees submit false application materials for US visas to make it appear the foreign nationals named in the documents had been assigned projects at client sites; the projects were nonexistent, according to the US Attorney’s Office. In addition, the firms required workers to pay a partially refundable security deposit of as much as $5,000 for the visa filings, regardless of whether they were assigned to a project from which they earned income.

The companies also failed to pay more than $1 million in employment taxes, according to the US Attorney’s Office.

“Mr. Samal exploited foreign nationals for personal gain while also stealing $1.1 million from his employees’ payroll withholdings to fund his luxury car, his mortgage and his personal accounts in India,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell.

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