Two Indian-Americans were jailed for stealing $1 billion from a Chicago-based health company

Imagine trusting a health technology start-up, only to find out that its top executives were masterminding a massive fraud scheme. This is the shocking story of Outcome Health, a Chicago-based company once hailed as a rising star in the tech world. Two of its Indian-origin former executives, Rishi Shah and Shradha Agarwal, have been sentenced for their roles in defrauding the company’s clients, lenders, and investors. The scale of their deception involved approximately $1 billion (Rs 7500 crore in Indian currency) in fraudulently obtained funds, shaking the very foundations of corporate trust and integrity.

Background of Outcome Health

Outcome Health, originally known as Context Media, was founded in 2006. The company gained prominence by installing television screens and tablets in doctors’ offices across the United States. These devices were used to display health-related content and advertisements, mainly from pharmaceutical companies. By January 2017, the company rebranded as Outcome Health and continued its rapid growth, becoming a key player in the health technology sector.

Key Figures in the Fraud Scheme

Rishi Shah: Co-founder and Former CEO

Rishi Shah, a charismatic and ambitious entrepreneur, co-founded Outcome Health and served as its CEO. His vision and leadership were instrumental in the company’s early success. However, his role in the fraud scheme has cast a long shadow over his achievements.

Shradha Agarwal: Co-founder and Former President

Shradha Agarwal, another co-founder, played a significant role in Outcome Health’s growth. As the company’s president, she was deeply involved in its operations. Unfortunately, her involvement in the fraud has tainted her legacy.

Brad Purdy: Former COO and CFO

Brad Purdy, who served as Outcome Health’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer, was also a key player in the scheme. His actions in inflating financial metrics and concealing the under-deliveries were crucial to the fraud’s success.

Details of the Fraud Scheme

The fraud scheme orchestrated by Shah, Agarwal, and Purdy was both elaborate and audacious. They sold advertising inventory that Outcome Health did not own, promising more advertising space than they could deliver. Despite under-delivering on these advertising campaigns, they still invoiced clients as if the full advertising services had been rendered.

Methods of Concealment

To hide their deception, the trio lied to clients and manipulated data. They inflated metrics to show higher engagement levels with the advertising content on the installed screens and tablets. This misrepresentation made it appear as though the company was fulfilling its contractual obligations, even when it was not.

Lying to Clients and Inflating Metrics

By presenting false data, they convinced clients that their advertisements were reaching a broader audience than was actually the case. This involved fabricating engagement metrics, such as how frequently patients interacted with the tablets in doctors’ offices.

Misrepresenting the Number of Screens and Patient Engagement

They also misrepresented the number of screens installed and the extent of patient engagement. These lies were instrumental in maintaining client confidence and securing continued business despite ongoing under-deliveries.

Impact on Clients

The primary victims of this fraud were the company’s clients, including numerous pharmaceutical companies. These clients paid for advertising services that were never fully delivered, leading to substantial financial losses. The overbilling practices resulted in at least $45 million in overcharged advertising services between 2011 and 2017.

Impact on Lenders and Investors

Outcome Health’s fraudulent practices also extended to its lenders and investors. By inflating financial statements and overstating revenue, the company misled those who invested or lent money based on false information. This not only damaged the financial interests of these stakeholders but also eroded trust in the company and its leadership.

Legal Proceedings

The US Department of Justice launched an investigation into Outcome Health’s practices, uncovering the extensive fraud scheme. The evidence presented at trial was damning, showing a clear pattern of deception and manipulation by Shah, Agarwal, and Purdy.

Investigation and Charges

The investigation revealed the depth of the fraud, leading to multiple charges against the former executives. Shah faced five counts of mail fraud, ten counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and two counts of money laundering. Agarwal was convicted of five counts of mail fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, and two counts of bank fraud. Purdy was also charged with multiple counts of fraud.

Sentencing of the Accused

Rishi Shah’s Sentence

On June 26, Rishi Shah was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison. His sentence reflects the severity of his actions and their impact on the victims.

Shradha Agarwal’s Sentence

Shradha Agarwal received a more lenient sentence, being sentenced on June 30 to three years in a halfway house. This sentence takes into account her role in the scheme and her level of cooperation with authorities.

Brad Purdy’s Sentence

Brad Purdy was sentenced on June 30 to two years and three months in prison. His involvement in inflating metrics and concealing under-deliveries was significant but warranted a shorter sentence compared to Shah.

Reactions to the Sentencing

Responses from the Legal Community

The sentencing of Shah, Agarwal, and Purdy has been widely discussed in legal circles. Many see it as a strong message that fraudulent practices, especially at such a high level, will not be tolerated. It also underscores the importance of rigorous oversight and accountability in the corporate world.

Public and Media Reactions

The case has attracted significant media attention, with many expressing shock and dismay at the extent of the fraud. The public’s reaction has been a mix of outrage and disappointment, particularly given the high profile of the individuals involved.

Lessons Learned from the Case

Importance of Transparency in Business Operations

One of the key takeaways from this case is the critical importance of transparency in business. Companies must ensure that they operate with integrity and honesty, particularly when dealing with clients, lenders, and investors.

Ethical Implications for Corporate Executives

The actions of Shah, Agarwal, and Purdy highlight the ethical responsibilities of corporate executives. Their willingness to deceive and manipulate for personal gain has had far-reaching consequences, damaging not only their reputations but also the trust placed in their company.

Preventative Measures for Similar Fraud

Strengthening Internal Controls

To prevent similar fraud schemes, companies must strengthen their internal controls. This includes implementing robust checks and balances to ensure accurate reporting and accountability at all levels of the organization.

Ensuring Accurate Reporting and Accountability

Accurate reporting is essential to maintaining trust with clients, investors, and other stakeholders. Companies should prioritize transparency and accountability to prevent fraudulent activities and protect their reputations.


The case of Outcome Health serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of corporate fraud and the importance of ethical leadership. The actions of Shah, Agarwal, and Purdy have had significant consequences, both for the victims of their scheme and for the broader business community. By learning from this case and implementing stronger preventative measures, companies can protect themselves and their stakeholders from similar fraud in the future.

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