A Naperville woman and her brother-in-law have been indicted on charges they bilked people and organizations out of millions of dollars, including Benedictine University in Lisle, federal officials said Thursday.
A grand jury Wednesday indicted Nandita Chatterjee, 36, and Neil Varma, 34, of New York, in an alleged scam in which they “misrepresented their success” to solicit money, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Springfield.
Among the charges filed against them are conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud; money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering; and the use of counterfeit and forged checks, according to the indictment.
Varma and Chatterjee allegedly ran their scheme from April 2011 until this year, the indictment said. Chatterjee claimed to be president and chief executive officer of CS Management Inc. of Oakbrook Terrace, with Varma its chief financial officer, the indictment said.
Chatterjee, Varma and unidentified “others” allegedly obtained money by misrepresenting the profit they’d made on investments to offering financial opportunities, the indictment said. They claimed Chatterjee was a lawyer and they were able “to assist with legal difficulties (and) charitable fundraising,” the indictment said.
They also “tendered more than $12 million in checks” drawn on nonexistent or closed accounts or accounts with insufficient funds, the indictment said.
Varma, Chatterjee and the others “mailed empty envelopes to victims” that they claimed contained payment checks, according to the indictment. They allegedly “made payments to investors and others with funds from other investors and individuals, and when funds could not be obtained from other sources, (obtained money) from Fidelity Investments and other accounts of family members.”
Varma and Chatterjee also solicited funds to promote concerts, entertainment productions and fundraisers featuring celebrities, seeking funds for an escrow account for events that never took place, the indictment said.
Additionally, Chatterjee promised donations to colleges and universities for money she did not have, the indictment said. That included a worthless check she wrote for $1 million to Benedictine University, a U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.
No dollar amount was provided for how much money Chatterjee and Varma might have gained through their alleged dealings.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, based in Chicago, “has been recused” from prosecuting the case, according to the release. No explanation for that action was disclosed.
Chatterjee and Varma are scheduled to be arraigned June 28 in U.S. District Court in Chicago.