Man pleads guilty to role in malware protection scam

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A man pleaded guilty Thursday to his role in a computer protection services scam that cheated victims out of nearly $1 million by misleading them into believing that malware had been detected on their computers, federal prosecutors said.

Himanshu Asri, 33, of Delhi, India, pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence to wire fraud conspiracy, according to the office of U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island, Aaron Weisman.

Asri and his accomplices defrauded U.S. citizens, many of them older than 65, by telling them that malware had been detected on their computers and persuading them to send money for protection services that were not needed or ever provided, prosecutors said.

From January 2015 until January of this year, the fraudsters collected about $940,000 from the victims and attempted to collect as much as $3 million.

Asri, the fourth telemarketing fraudster to be convicted in federal court in Rhode Island in the past three months, faces up to 20 years in prison at sentencing on Feb. 18.