Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced the guilty plea of HIT SHRESTHA, 44, a Nepalese national, for systematically defrauding other Nepalese nationals of thousands of dollars. The defendant pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to 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.
“The Nepalese community in this city is growing and, like all immigrant communities, it is often targeted for fraud,” said District Attorney Vance. “In this case, the victims support the daily economy of New York City by performing a number of jobs, from driving taxis to working in beauty salons and restaurants, and even serving as a nanny. They worked very hard to earn money before Hit Shrestha, a fellow immigrant and someone whom they trusted, stole it from them.”
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Immigrant Affairs Program operates a hotline that immigrants can call to report crime, regardless of immigration status: 212-335-3600.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed 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 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 also used the alias of Nitu Rana, and falsely represented herself to be the sister of Dr. Arzu Rana Deuba, a well-known Nepalese public figure and wife of former Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadeur Deuba. The defendant told her victims that Dr. Deuba had an upcoming trip to the United States planned, and then offered her victims’ family members the last available seat in Dr. Deuba’s traveling 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 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, prosecuted 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. Assistant District Attorney Rachana Pathak provided valuable assistance with this case. 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.
HIT SHRESTHA, a/k/a NITU RANA, D.O.B. 06/29/1966
• Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, one count