Vinod Gupta – InfoGROUP’s $5 Million+ Fraudster
Vinod Gupta is the former CEO and chairman of infoGROUP, which included the notorious firm infoUSA. Currently he is a Managing General Partner at Everest Group.
The Indian-American founder ran the database compilation firm for decades until the SEC caught hold of his shady activities and charged him for fraud.
According to the SEC, Vinod Gupta was fraudulently spending millions of dollars of the company’s funds on his personal luxuries. This included 20 vehicles and a private jet.
Without admitting or denying the allegations against him, Vinod Gupta settled the SEC’s charges. He accepted to pay around $4.3 million including $4.04 million in disgorgement, $1.14 million prejudgement interest and a $2.24 million penalty.
The SEC said that Gupta had stolen millions of dollars from InfoGroup’s shareholders. He treated the company “like it was his personal ATM”.
Furthermore, the SEC highlighted that other company officials also abused their position of trust by looking the other way.
More on the SEC’s Complaint against Vinod Gupta:
The SEC filed its complaints against Vinod Gupta in 2007. They filed these complaints in federal district court in Nebraska, alleging that Vinod had improperly used the company’s funds on $3 millions worth of personal jet travel for himself, family and friends.
According to the complaint, he spent the money on travels in Italy, Cancun and South Africa.
Also, Vinod Gupta had used investors’ funds to pay $2.8 million in expenses related to his yacht and $1.3 million on credit card and other expenses related to 20 vehicles, 28 club memberships and 3 personal life insurance policies.
That’s not all.
The SEC discovered that Vinod had spent a lot of the company’s funds on purchasing homes around the US.
Vinod and his immediate family had at least 9 houses in the US including Miami, Las Vegas, Hawaii and Colorado.
The SEC’s complaint alleged that Vinod didn’t inform infoGROUP’s other board members about his purchase of an acquisition target’s shares for his illicit profits.
Apart from Gupta, the SEC had also charged the company’s internal auditors who kept approving his expense reimbursement requests. Also, the auditors falsely claimed in ther representation letters to the outside auditor that all the party transactions with Gupta’s entities were properly disclosed.
Another noteworthy detail is that Info misspent millions on domestic and international air travel for former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Clinton.
Note that Vinod Gupta has been a major donor to Democrats. He gave around a million dollars to Bill Clinton’s presidential library in Arkansans
Vinod stepped down as the CEO of the firm after these allegations. However, apart from stealing from the investors, Vinod has helped scammers steal from US citizens as well:
How Vinod Gupta’s Firm Aided Scammers in Stealing from the Elderly:
Telemarketing scams are a major issue. In such scams, callers posing as government and insurance workers contact senior citizens to get their personal information.
These scams have been going on for decades and have evolved significantly.
You might wonder, “Where do these scammers get the details of these elderly citizens?”
They get their data from companies like infoUSA.
In fact, the New York Times ran a story on how infoUSA was helping telemarketing scams expand their operations by selling them the data on various veterans and senior citizens:
They highlighted the story of Richard Guthrie, a 92-year-old veteran who ended up on the scammers’ list. infoUSA had sold his name and related data along with millions of others to telemarketing criminals.
NYT pointed out that InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers” who were looking for ways to make money. This was a list of 3.3 million older people.
Then, they advertised a list of “Suffering Seniors”. It was a list of 4.7 people with cancer or Alzheimer’s. Another advertised list was “Oldies but Goodies” which contained the details of 500,000 gambles of over 55 years old. InfoUSA advertised the list saying “these people are gullible, they want to believe they can change their luck.
InfoUSA sold the data of the elderly under the leadership of Vinod Gupta
The database company sold these details for 8.5 cents per name. Some of the lists cost 6 cents per name.
Also, the interviewed victim highlighted that he looked forward to those calls. Since his wife passed away, Mr. Guhtrie didn’t have many people to talk to. However, he had no idea those scammers were stealing from him.
Vinod Gupta’s company didn’t face any legal repercussions for helping telemarketing scams either.
The New York Times reported at the time that neither the bank nor InfoUSA stopped working with the criminals. Even when the authorities warned Vinod Gupta’s firm that they were aiding criminals, they kept selling more databases.
Scammers stole $100,000 from Mr. Guthrie who was one of the millions the scammers targeted.
How Vinod Gupta’s InfoUSA Sold the Data of Millions of Senior Citizens
The list brokering industry is quite a large sector. Initially, list brokerage firms like Vinod Gupta’s InfoUSA would only serve legitimate customers like catalog companies and magazines.
But InfoUSA started selling its data to telemarketing criminals too.
At the time of NYT’s reporting, InfoUSA maintained records on 210 million Americans. According to the records of the Iowa attorney general, Vinod’s company had helped sell lists to companies that were under investigation or had been prosecuted for fraud.
For example, Vinod Gupta’s company sold a list titled “Astoluck” dozens of times to notorious companies like HMS Direct.
The Canadian Authorities had sued HMS Direct for deceptive mailings. Similarly, it sold the Astroluck to Alimbow which the Swiss authorities were prosecturint for a lottery scam.
Iowa’s records show that InfoUSA had sold thousands of other eldelry Americans’ names to Windfall Investments which the FBI accused of stealing $600,000 from an elderly lady.
During all this time, Vinod Gupta was the CEO and Chairman of the company. There’s no doubt that he was well aware of his company’s shady business activities.
Some More Scams who Bought Data from InfoUSA:
Under his leadership, the company sold lists to World Marketing Service, a company that a judge shut down for running lottery scams.
During his tenure as the CEO, they sold data to Atlas Marketing, which a court closed for selling $86 million of fake business opportunities.
Also, they had sold data to Emerald Marketing Enterprises which the authorities have investigated multiple times but never charged them.
As the CEO of InfoUSA, Vinod Gupta helped scammers get data on millions of veterans and retired professionals. Why didn’t the authorities ever look into him for these illicit activities?
Probably because of his high net worth and contacts.
After all, Vinod Gupta had spent millions of InfoUSA’s funds on entertaining the Clintons during an international visit.
After going through his professional history, it’s obvious that Vinod Gupta is a fraudster.
He stole millions from his company’s investors and lived lavishly for years. As the CEO of InfoUSA, he sold the data of millions of elderly Americans to telemarketing scammers.
What’s worse is that the authorities have only looked into him for stealing from his company. Vinod Gupta has faced no repercussions for helping scammers steal from retired professionals and veterans.
Will the authorities ever look into Vindo Gupta again?
Vinod Gupta is currently a Managing General Partner at Everest Group. He used to be the CEO of InfoGroup and InfoUSA until the SEC caught him stealing millions from the company’s investors. Under his leadership, InfoUSA sold the personal information of millions of elderly Americans to telemarketing scams.
- Charged for fraud by the SEC
- Misspent millions of investors’ money on personal luxuries
- Sold the data of many senior citizens to scammers