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U.S. Seeks Fraud-Accused Former Professor’s Extradition from India

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U.S. federal agents have filed an extradition request for a former professor from India, who is accused of falsifying documents, and committing immigration fraud, among other charges, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Anoop Shankar, a former West Virginia University and Virginia Commonwealth University medical professor, allegedly provided false information to immigration authorities, forged signatures of professors in fake recommendation letters, used fake credentials to claim the university job, and misused his university purchasing card.

Shankar taught at WVU from 2008 to 2014, and left the school to travel to Virginia Commonwealth. Though fraud charges were filed against him by federal prosecutors in West Virginia in 2015, he did not return to the country, the report said, adding that the case remains under seal.

The whereabouts of the former professor remain unknown. Federal agents believe that he left the United States in 2014 and started living in the United Arab Emirates, while interpol recently said that he traveled to India, the publication reported, citing an extradition affidavit.

The investigation began in 2015 when Homeland Security Investigations Pittsburgh and authorities in West Virginia initiated investigations against him on suspicion of defrauding WVU of about $617,000 in salary paid to him. They also started probing the accusations of purchasing fraud through submission of false travel expenses, and the use of forged letters of professors in America and abroad submitted by him. He allegedly submitted false expenses of travels, took false ownership of various medical articles, and lied about his medical degrees.

The detectives said that Shankar lied about possessing a doctorate degree in epidemiology and medical statistics from Mahatma Gandhi University and that he had undertaken medical residency at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the publication reported.

He made false claims about owning memberships in several top organizations, and authorship of various medical articles.

Shankar was living in Singapore when he applied at WVU in 2007 , according to the report.

Before 2015, the university had no knowledge of his alleged fake credentials, and filed a petition for a non-immigrant worker on his behalf with the U.S. immigration authorities. In 2010, another form was issued by the institution in an appeal to make him a permanent resident, which was backed by various recommendation letters of professors, later found to be fake.

Shankar’s alleged lies were discovered in 2012 while considering him for a newly created epidemiology position, the report said, adding that the fake documents and publications were discovered by Ian R.H. Rockett, a WVU professor and chair of the promotion and tenure committee.

In March 2014, the professor left for a new position in Virginia Commonwealth by using some of the fake credentials that he used for WVU.

“It is believed that Shankar departed based upon the pending investigation of his credentials,” wrote Scott Fell, an HSI agent, Pittsburgh Post Gazette said.