Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 20, 2020
PITTSBURGH – Three residents of New York, pleaded guilty in recent weeks in federal court to a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today. The charges are in connection with a complex scheme related to the importation into the United States of prescription drugs from China, Russia and India, and the fraudulent credit card payment processing associated with those sales to consumers in the United States.
Devan Abrams, age 39, of New York City, New York, Azad Khizgilov, age 46, of Staten Island, New York, and Roman Shaulov, age 53, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty to one count before Senior United States District Judge David S. Cercone. In related cases, Garri Shihman, age 49, of Parkland, Florida, and Gennady Nudelman, age 45, of Delray Beach, Florida, pled guilty and were sentenced in 2019.
In connection with the various court proceedings, the court was advised that this complex matter has two primary components. The first is related to the illegal on-line sale of pharmaceutical drugs to U.S. consumers from a host of websites located primarily in India, China and Russia. The second component relates to the fraudulent processing of credit card payments for these pharmaceutical drugs and other products. The five defendants referred to in this press release are only directly associated with the second component. The fraudulent activity, which occurred between 2013 and 2017, involved the use of a series of misrepresentations that cause the credit card companies to process credit card transactions for illegally imported pharmaceutical drugs. The credit card companies have policies that preclude the use of their products and services to pay for illegally imported pharmaceutical drugs, and they have various internal controls designed to prevent the use of their products and services for such activities. In the scheme orchestrated by the defendants, they defrauded the credit card companies into processing tens of millions of dollars in payments for illegally imported pharmaceutical drugs through a series front companies, fake websites, fraudulent merchant applications, and other fraudulent activity.
The fraud involved the establishment of hundreds of front companies that were established by these defendants any others, and fake web sites associated with those companies that falsely indicated that they were selling legitimate products. Together with the incorporation paperwork for the front companies and the fake website, the defendants submitted a merchant application to the credit card companies under the name of recruited accomplices. Once approved by the credit card companies, the defendants then arranged for the merchant accounts to process payments for the illegally imported pharmaceutical drugs.
The defendants also arranged for a number of employees to serve on a telephone bank that received telephone calls from customers questioning charges on their credit card statements. That was necessary because the credit card statements reflected purchases from the front companies and not the internet companies selling the illegally imported pharmaceutical drugs. In this way, the telephone bank prevented the customers from reporting the fraud to the credit card companies.
Federal agents began to undercover the fraud through controlled purchases from websites and search warrants at various locations. Abrams, Khizgilov, and Shihman operated out of offices located at 1812 Bath Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, and later, Abrams, Khizgilov and Shaulov operated out of offices located at 1706 Crospey Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. Search warrants executed at both of those locations led to evidence supporting the charges.
Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for Devan Abrams on December 15, 2020, for Azad Khizgilov on December 8, 2020, and for Roman Shaulov on December 17, 2020. The law provides for a total maximum sentence of not more than 30 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000, or both for each defendant. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Garri Shihman was sentenced in federal court to 45 months’ imprisonment on July 26, 2019. Gennady Nudelman was sentenced in federal court to 32 months’ imprisonment on May 8, 2019. Shihman and Nudelman are currently serving their sentences at a Bureau of Prisons facility.
Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations, Pennsylvania State Police and United States Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation that led to the prosecutions of Abrams, Khizgilov, Shaulov, Shihman and Nudelman.
USAO - Pennsylvania, Western