FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - April 25, 2012
CONTACT: Erin Duggan 212-335-9400
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the arrest and indictment of HIT SHRESTHA, 44, a Nepalese national, for systematically defrauding other Nepalese nationals of thousands of dollars. SHRESTHA is charged with Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree for falsely promising her victims that she would arrange for their family members from Nepal to immigrate to the United States, and for charging her victims large fees for the promised service.
"Time and again, we see defendants victimizing members of their own immigrant communities through heartless scams," said District Attorney Vance. "Immigrants are some of our most vulnerable victims, which is why I urge anyone who feels they may have been the victim of such fraud to call our Immigrant Affairs Program Hotline at 212-335-3600, regardless of their immigration status."
According to documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court, SHRESTHA convinced multiple victims to pay between $3,000 to $7,000 in exchange for arranging air travel, travel documents, and immigration forms for her victims' relatives. To gain the trust of her victims, SHRESTHA allegedly catered to the needs of newly arrived Nepalese immigrants by inviting them into her home, providing companionship, helping them to find employment, paying for meals, and introducing them to others in the local Nepalese community.
SHRESTHA is also accused of using the alias of NITU RANA, and falsely representing herself to be the sister was Dr. Arzu Rana Deuba, a well-known Nepalese public figure and wife of former Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadeur Deuba. The defendant is charged with telling all of her victims that Dr. Deuba had an upcoming trip to the United States planned, and would then offer her victims' family members the last available seat in Dr. Deuba's travelling delegation. After the relatives did not arrive at the promised time, the victims made numerous requests for their money to be returned. At this point, the defendant allegedly suggested that she could have the immigrants deported if they continued to complain.
Assistant District Attorney Rosemary Yu, Co-Director of the Immigrant Affairs Program, is prosecuting this case with assistance from Assistant District Attorney Archana Rao, Deputy Chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau, and under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Thomas Wornom, Chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau. Investigator Keith Christensen, Financial Analyst Eunice Choi, and Immigrant Affairs Program Coordinators Jacob Pang and Raquel Segundo also assisted with this case.
District Attorney Vance thanked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services' Office of Fraud Detection, and National Security Immigration Officers Denise Ciminelli and Paloma Sotomayor, for their assistance in the investigation. District Attorney Vance also thanked Adhikaar and Columbia University for their assistance and cooperation.
IT SHRESTHA, a/k/a NITU RANA, D.O.B. 06/29/1966
• Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, one count
• Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, one count
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