Three H-1B Fraud Cases Involving People Named Sharma

By David North on September 28, 2016

I have written several times about Indian nationals with a few years experience in this country exploiting their more newly arrived countrymen through the H-1B program; but in those cases the people involved all had different names.

Today's posting is about H-1B fraud inflicted by, in two cases, and inflicted on, in one case, Indians named Sharma.

In an earlier blog post, I reported that I had been informed that a group of four Indian nationals had been charged with exploiting other Indians in the program, and that I had dismissed this tip initially because I thought my informant had miscounted — that the story really had involved five Indians, something that I had already covered.

But it turned out that though their modi operandi were similar there were, in fact, two gangs: one a group of four, and quite separately a group of five, both deeply involved with H-1B. Both gangs underpaid their workers, both falsified payroll documents, both focused their abuse on other Indians, and both got caught.

I had all of this parked in some recess of my mind when I read a news article about someone named Sharma who had been indicted in the federal courts in New Jersey for mistreating foreign workers, presumably from India, under the H-1B program.

The name sounded vaguely familiar, so I Googled "Sharma H-1B Fraud" and to my surprise I got three responses — all different from each other and all totally separate from the Gangs of Four and Five mentioned above.

Wondering if "Sharma" is the "Smith" of India, a really frequently encountered name, I looked it up and found a Wikipedia article describing it as a "common surname used by Brahmins in India and Nepal". That some members of this elite caste were exploiting their countrymen came as no surprise, but a Brahmin as a victim? That's odd.

All of the Sharma cases were similar to those of the Gangs of Four and Five in their operations. The specifics:

Exploitation Case No. 1. The event that brought all this to my attention was the arrest on the morning of September 26 of Sowrabh Sharma, 31, in Newark, N.J., by federal authorities who said he was "using the H-1B visa program to reduce skilled labor costs." The announcement came in a press release from the Office of the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, Paul. J. Fishman.

One detail of this Sharma's scheme: The H-1B workers were issued checks for the full amount that they were supposed to be paid and copies of these checks were used to show that the program was operating appropriately. But the workers were forced to give the company cash equal to these checks and return the original checks. Then the H-1B workers were issued new checks for smaller amounts of money. Sharma's firm also falsified its records to show that the workers had been paid for vacations, although this did not happen.

Exploitation Case No. 2. Back in 2013, the feds arrested a gang of six people of Indian extraction who ran a similar scheme through Dibbon Solutions in Carrollton, Texas. A key member of this conspiracy was Vivek Sharma, the office manager, according to reporting by the industry blog IT Business Edge.

The Exploitee. In February of this year, an administrative law judge in the Department of Labor ordered Florida-based Government Training LLC to pay back wages to Puneet Sharma to the tune of $48,000. Sharma, an H-1B who holds an advanced degree in IT, was supposed to be paid $65,000 a year, but was not, so the ALG ordered the retroactive payment.

All of these illegal exploitations, of course, are drops in the proverbial bucket compared to the massive amount of legal exploitation that takes place in this program, much of it through big Indian outsourcing companies like Tata and Infosys. Both the big H-1B-using firms and the little ones, of course, are equally adept at denying American IT workers jobs in the American economy.