California Man Indicted in Extortion Scheme

CHARLESTON, W. Va. - U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin today  announced that Vivek Shah, 25, of West Hollywood, California, has been indicted  by a federal grand jury in Charleston, West Virginia, on charges arising from a  multi-million dollar extortion attempt. The indictment alleges Shah sent a  prominent West Virginian a letter threatening to kill a relative of the  letter’s recipient unless $13 million was wired to an offshore bank account by  June 28, 2012.

The letter identified several of the recipient’s relatives by  name, the indictment says. According to the indictment, Shah later sent the  victim wiring instructions for a bank account in Cyprus, along with a second  copy of the original threatening letter.

Shah was arrested on August 10, 2012, pursuant to an arrest  warrant issued in the Southern District of West Virginia. The arrest warrant  was issued in response to a criminal complaint containing allegations related  to those in the indictment announced today. The criminal complaint reveals Shah  sought out handgun training only days before he was arrested.

The indictment charges Shah with two counts of interference  with commerce by threats and two counts of transmitting threatening  communications in interstate commerce. If convicted on all counts of the  indictment, Shah faces up to forty years in prison.

The indictment results from an investigation by the Federal  Bureau of Investigation’s Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Chicago divisions, and  the United States Postal Inspection Service. Counsel to the United States  Attorney Steve Ruby is handling the prosecution.

Note: The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the  defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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