More than three years after the whistle was first blown on Rupak and the Planet Hospital disaster, the wheels of justice have finally started turning...
The official news release issued by:
OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
San Diego, California
United States Attorney
Laura E. Duffy
For Further Information, Contact: Assistant U. S. Attorneys Christopher Tenorio (619) 546-8413 and Valerie Chu (619) 546-6750 For Immediate Release
Broker Accused of Stealing Millions from Clients Trying to Have Babies through Surrogates in Mexico
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – June 22, 2016
SAN DIEGO – Acharayya Rupak, founder of San Diego-based medical tourism company Planet Hospital, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he stole more than $2 million from infertile clients who sought his help in finding surrogacy services.
Rupak, a Canadian national living in Calabasas, acted as a broker between his clients and Mexican clinics that provide egg donors, in vitro fertilization and surrogates. According to the indictment, Rupak pocketed money from American clients that he was supposed to use to pay the clinics for various surrogacy services. The clinics didn’t get their money; the clients never received the services.
“People who seek the help of a surrogate are on an exhausting, expensive and emotional journey,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “They shouldn’t have their dream to have a child trampled by someone they trust to help them.”
“Though the FBI investigates many types of fraud, it is concerning when victims have been taken advantage of because of their desire to start a family,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum. “The FBI will use our resources appropriately to root out fraudulent surrogacy schemes that violate the trust of the American public.”
Rupak, who has also used the names Rudy Rupak, Rudolph Matthews and Kevin Thomas Rudolph Matthews, made his first appearance in federal court Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Major. Bond was set at $50,000 and Rupak’s next court hearing is scheduled for July 25 at 2 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant.
Medical tourism companies like Planet Hospital facilitate travel to foreign countries to undergo medical procedures such as gastric bypass, organ transplants, tummy tucks or hip replacements at a more affordable price. In this case, Rupak acted as an intermediary, connecting U.S. clients with egg donors and in vitro fertilization clinics and surrogates in Mexico. Rupak’s medical tourism business had addresses in San Diego, Calabasas and Calexico.
In 2008, Rupak began offering international surrogacy services, which is the practice of paying a woman to have an embryo transferred to her womb and bear the child for someone else. Beginning in September 2009 and continuing until at least January 2014, Rupak solicited international surrogacy clients, luring them in with promises of discounted prices and then hitting them with additional fees later. He convinced them to send him thousands of dollars by falsely representing that their funds would be put into escrow accounts and used only to pay for medical services.
But according to the indictment, Rupak failed to forward the clients’ funds to service providers such as egg donor companies, IVF clinics and surrogacy services. These companies would then demand additional funds from Rupak’s clients, who had already paid for the services.
To cover up the theft, Rupak created unauthorized websites and email addresses in the name of a clinic and its physician in order to send emails to Planet Hospital clients, giving excuses for why Planet Hospital had not provided promised services or falsely claiming that surrogacy procedures were unsuccessful.
Rupak lied to his clients about success rates and falsely claimed ownership interest in two IVF clinics in Cancun, Mexico, the indictment said.
Once the deception started snowballing, Rupak operated his business like a Ponzi scheme, using funds from new clients to pay for services provided to existing Planet Hospital clients.
DEFENDANT Case Number 16cr1333
Acharayya Rupak Age: 48 Calabasas, CA
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Wire Fraud – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 134
Maximum penalty: 20 years’ imprisonment and $250,000 fine
Federal Bureau of Investigation
*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Director of Media Relations
Office of the United States Attorney
Southern District of California