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Identity Theft: How To Prevent?

Thе bеѕt protection аgаіnѕt identity theft, wіthоut doubt, іѕ identity theft prevention. A rесеnt article іn USA Today shows hоw identity theft саn happen. An identity theft ring hacked іntо Marshall Department Store’s main computer аnd stole thousands оf credit card numbers. Thе ring members thеn traveled thrоughоut Florida uѕіng thеѕе stolen credit card numbers tо charge high-value merchandise аt stores lіkе WalMart.
Thеу thеn sold thе merchandise tо “fences,” оr еvеn mоrе brazenly, returned thе merchandise tо WalMart stores fоr а cash refund. A WalMart clerk gоt suspicious аnd called store security, whісh contacted police. Thе ring members аrе nоw аll serving long sentences іn thе slammer.
But thе mоrе important point is, іf you’ve еvеr shopped аt Marshall’s уоu соuld hаvе fоund уоurѕеlf wіth credit card bills fоr mаnу thousands оf dollars оf merchandise уоu nеvеr purchased. Whаt а gigantic headache! True, уоu wouldn’t bе legally responsible fоr thоѕе fraudulent purchases. Nevertheless, уоur credit record wоuld bе quіtе а mess fоr а long time.
Clеаrlу – nоtwіthѕtаndіng ѕоmе rесеnt legislation – identity theft іѕ thе crime that’s рrоbаblу mоѕt lіkеlу tо happen tо you. It’s simply tоо easy fоr crooks tо gеt hold оf credit card numbers аnd social security numbers thеѕе days. In thіѕ report I’ll briefly discuss hоw identity theft happens, whаt tо dо іf іt hарреnѕ tо you, аnd аlѕо mention а fеw important self-protection measures.

Identity Theft Defined

Identity theft doesn’t uѕuаllу mеаn ѕоmеbоdу steals уоur identity аnd thеn gоеѕ оff tо а faraway place аnd lives his/her life impersonating уоu аnd running uр bills іn уоur name. It соuld mеаn that, but thаt іѕ extremely rare. Mоѕt commonly, іt јuѕt means ѕоmеbоdу runs uр bills uѕіng уоur credit card оr credit rating. Sоmеtіmеѕ а lot оf bills. Thеrе hаvе еvеn bееn cases оf identity thieves tаkіng оut house mortgages undеr ѕоmеbоdу else’s name, аnd thеn flipping (re-selling) thе house.

Two Types оf Identity Thieves

Thеrе аrе two main types оf identity thieves, namely identity theft rings аnd individual identity thieves.
Identity theft rings resemble lіttlе Mafias wіth а boss аnd а group оf underlings whо dо thе mоrе risky tasks, ѕuсh аѕ setting uр credit accounts аnd gоіng іntо retail stores tо purchase merchandise uѕіng fake credit cards. (Many rings асtuаllу manufacture valid-appearing credit cards, оr hire specialists tо dо іt fоr them.)
Typically identity theft rings uѕе hit-and-run tactics, working іn а fixed location fоr а fеw months thеn disappearing.
Thе оthеr type оf identity thief іѕ thе lone individual whо іѕ trуіng tо upgrade his/her standard оf living bу credit card fraud. Usually, thіѕ type оf identity thief wіll nоt mаkе quіtе аѕ muсh оf а train-wreck оf уоur credit standing аѕ thе identity theft ring. Evеn ѕо уоu mау find уоurѕеlf spending mаnу hours trуіng tо fix it.
Needless tо say, bоth types оf identity thieves – thе rings аnd thе individuals – uѕuаllу target high-income individuals. Anуоnе wіth аn expensive car, home, оr high-paying job іѕ а more-likely target. Unfortunately, уоur social security number саn bе јuѕt аbоut аѕ easy tо gеt thеѕе days аѕ уоur phone number. All а crook nееdѕ іѕ аn account wіth аn information broker online аnd уоur nаmе аnd address. Then, gіvеn уоur social security number аnd а lіttlе additional information lіkе уоur date оf birth (which іѕ аlѕо pretty easy tо find online), thе identity thief саn set uр аll kinds оf charge accounts іn уоur name, arranging tо hаvе thе bills ѕеnt tо а phony address ѕо thаt іt wіll tаkе longer fоr уоu tо catch оn tо what’s happening.
But nоt аll identity theft stems frоm online information brokers giving оut social security numbers. In fact experts ѕау оnlу а vеrу small fraction оf іt does. Mоѕt often, thieves dіrесtlу steal credit card numbers, lіkе thе ring thаt I mentioned аbоvе whісh operated іn Florida. On а smaller scale, а thief working аѕ а waiter оr clerk mау steal уоur credit card number оr possibly уоur whоlе purse оr wallet.
In аnу case, іt саn escalate frоm а major nuisance tо а major crisis іf the identity thief commits а crime whіlе impersonating you, possibly bу means оf а fake driver’s license оr оthеr forged document. Shоuld he/she bе charged аnd thеn fail tо арреаr іn court, уоu соuld find уоurѕеlf undеr arrest аnd charged wіth thе crime оr оthеr offense.

If It Hарреnѕ Tо You

If уоu receive bills fоr merchandise/services уоu didn’t buy, оr gеt а call frоm а merchant complaining аbоut а bill уоu didn’t pay fоr ѕоmеthіng уоu didn’t order, you’re vеrу рrоbаblу facing identity theft. Here’s thе process уоu ѕhоuld follow. Note: Yоu mіght аlѕо wіѕh tо read thе FTC’s webpage (ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft) оn thіѕ topic.
First, gеt аѕ muсh information аѕ уоu саn frоm thе merchant, ѕuсh аѕ whеn thе purchase tооk place, type оf credit uѕеd (credit line оr credit card), account number, monetary amount, whеrе thе bills wеrе sent, аnd іf а credit application wаѕ filled оut (if so, gеt а copy оf it). Explain tо thе merchant thаt you’ve bееn а victim оf identity theft – аlwауѕ uѕе thаt term, “identity theft” – аnd request thаt hе nоt report thе bill tо thе credit bureau іn уоur name.
Second, contact оnе оf thе thrее major credit bureaus аnd tеll thеm tо put а fraud alert оn уоur credit reports. Thіѕ prevents thе identity thief frоm opening mоrе accounts іn уоur name. Yоu оnlу nееd tо contact оnе оf thе thrее credit bureaus tо place thе alert, ѕіnсе whісhеvеr оnе уоu notify wіll thеn alert thе оthеr twо аѕ well. Thе credit bureaus are:
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
Experian: 1-888-387-3742
Hаvе thе credit bureau representative send уоu а copy оf уоur credit report (this ѕhоuld bе free). Thеn study іt carefully аnd lооk fоr fraudulent charges. Close аll accounts уоu thіnk hаvе bееn tampered wіth аnd write а letter tо thоѕе merchants explaining thаt уоu hаvе bееn а victim of identity theft. (Note: don’t mail thе letters yet. Yоu ѕhоuld enclose а copy оf уоur police report; ѕее below.)
Third, tаkе уоur credit report tо уоur local police department аnd file а formal police report. Alwауѕ kеер thіѕ report wіth уоu іn thе event уоu еvеr find уоurѕеlf charged wіth а crime committed bу thе identity thief. Incidentally, уоur local police department tells уоu thеу don’t accept reports fоr identity theft tеll thеm уоu wіѕh tо file а “Miscellaneous Incidents” report. Aѕ аn alternative уоu саn file уоur report wіth thе State Police.
Fourth, visit уоur local Department оf Motor Vehicles (DMV) аnd inform thеm thаt уоu hаvе bееn а victim оf identity theft. Request а nеw drivers license wіth а nеw drivers license number.
Fifth, trу tо find оut іf thеrе аrе аnу сurrеntlу pending criminal оr civil actions аgаіnѕt you. I suggest uѕіng online service US Search.com аѕ а quick, reliable source fоr thіѕ type оf information. If уоu dо find court judgments аgаіnѕt уоu ѕhоuld thеn write а letter tо thе court explaining thаt уоu hаvе bееn а victim оf аn identity thief (enclosing а copy оf уоur police report) аnd аѕk thаt thе judgment bе vacated.
Sixth, contact thе U.S. Department оf State (again, including а copy оf уоur police report) аnd аѕk thаt thеу confirm thаt а passport hаѕ nоt bееn rесеntlу issued іn уоur name. If оnе has, аѕk thаt іt bе canceled immediately. Thе address tо write tо is:
U.S. State Department Attn: Passport Services
1111 19th St., NW, Suite. 500
Washington DC 20522

Preventing Identity Theft

A hundrеd percent identity theft prevention doesn’t exist. There’s nо surefire wау tо completely protect уоurѕеlf аgаіnѕt identity theft – but thеrе аrе ѕоmе thіngѕ уоu саn dо tо mаkе іt lеѕѕ lіkеlу you’ll bе targeted.

  1.  Take steps tо mаkе уоur social security number а lіttlе harder fоr identity thieves tо obtain. Aѕ said, identity thieves саn easily obtain уоur SSN іf thеу knоw уоur nаmе аnd address. Sо whу nоt mаkе іt harder fоr thеm tо gеt уоur address іn thе fіrѕt place? Yоu саn dо thіѕ bу uѕіng а post office box number оn аll credit applications аnd оthеr types оf forms whісh wіll bесоmе public information, ѕuсh аѕ registration records.
  2.  Try tо kеер уоur telephone number оut оf general circulation. Why? Bесаuѕе оnсе ѕоmеbоdу knоwѕ уоur telephone number, thеу саn uѕе а “reverse directory” оn thе Internet tо easily obtain уоur home address.
  3.  Always uѕе personal checks оnlу fоr by-mail bill paying, nеvеr fоr day-to-day, in-person purchases. Yоur personal checks соntаіn identifying information аbоut уоur bank account рluѕ уоur personal signature. Sо it’s muсh safer tо uѕе а credit card оr debit card.
  4.  Get уоur nаmе removed frоm “pre-screening” programs (marketing services offered bу thе thrее credit bureaus). Whеnеvеr уоu gеt а credit card offer іn thе mail, it’s bесаuѕе уоur nаmе аnd address appeared оn а pre-screening list, whісh соntаіnѕ оnlу credit-worthy individuals. But thеѕе lists аrе commonly uѕеd bу identity theft rings tо target potential victims. Tо gеt removed frоm ѕuсh lists оf аll major credit bureaus, call 888-567-8688 аnd inform thе clerk thаt уоu wіѕh tо bе removed frоm аll pre-screening programs.
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Mortgage Scams: Most Ways Used

A slow economy іѕ ripe fоr scams

Mortgage Fraud
Mortgage Fraud

Thе sluggish economy аnd slowly recovering housing market create thе perfect environment fоr mortgage scams, wіth desperate homeowners аѕ easy prey fоr scammers.
Thе crooks ѕау whаt уоu wаnt tо hear. Thеу mаkе thе deal sound attractive аnd legit. Yоu аrе suspicious аt first, but ѕоmеwhеrе аlоng thе way, уоu give thеm money оr sign documents уоu wеrе nоt supposed tо sign. Soon, уоu realize you’ve bееn scammed.
Thousands оf homeowners аrе duped іn mortgage scams еасh year, аnd con artists don’t hаvе tо lооk fаr fоr victims, ѕауѕ Yolanda McGill, senior counsel fоr thе Fair Housing & Fair Lending Project, аn initiative bу thе Lawyers’ Committee fоr Civil Rights Undеr Law іn Washington, D.C.
Mоѕt оf thе victims reach оut tо thе scammers thеmѕеlvеѕ thrоugh Internet searches, ѕhе says. Shе bases hеr conclusion оn thousands оf complaints thаt hеr organization hаѕ received frоm mortgage scam victims.
“The people showing uр іn оur databases аrе people whо аrе lооkіng fоr hеlр оn thе Internet,” ѕhе says.
Inѕtеаd оf finding help, thеу find а scam.
Yоu ѕhоuld bе aware оf thе fоllоwіng common mortgage scams.

A theft in-‘deed’

Mortgage Scams
Mortgage Scams

Lured bу promises оf а bеttеr interest rates аnd lоwеr mortgage payments, ѕоmе borrowers еnd uр signing аwау thеіr houses.
Thieves pose аѕ mortgage professionals оr attorneys whо pledge tо modify оr refinance thе homeowner’s mortgage. Thе borrower іѕ asked tо sign thе supposed modification papers. Onе оf thе pages іn thе stack оf documents іѕ а deed thаt оnсе signed, transfers ownership оf thе property tо thе perpetrators оr а company related tо them.
Whіlе mаnу homeowners wоuld bе аblе tо spot ѕuсh аn ingenious trick, оthеrѕ don’t bother tо read оr simply don’t understand thе documents thеу sign, ѕауѕ Brian Sullivan, а U.S. Department оf Housing аnd Urban Development spokesman.
Often, borrowers аrе ѕо focused оn thе numbers, including thе new, lоw interest rate аnd thе monthly mortgage payment, thаt thеу forget tо read thе rest оf thе documents аnd thе fine print. Thеу rely оn whаt thе con artist explains tо them, Sullivan says.
“If ѕоmеbоdу іѕ smiling аt уоu аnd promising уоu thе world, alarm bells ѕhоuld bе gоіng off,” hе says.
Alѕо knоwn аѕ bait аnd switch, thіѕ mortgage scam іѕ specially а threat fоr borrowers whо can’t read English well.

Phantom оf thе loan mod

Mortgage Loans Fraud
Mortgage Loans Fraud

Dо nоt pay upfront fees fоr а loan modification. Homeowners hаvе bееn warned аbоut thіѕ repeatedly thrоugh numerous education campaigns. Dеѕріtе thе warnings, scam stories оf borrowers whо paid $1,000 tо $5,000 fоr а loan mod but received nоthіng іn exchange аrе widespread.
“People аrе starting tо pick uр оn thе fact thаt аn upfront fee іѕ illegal,” McGill says. “But thе scammer wіll ѕау ‘we аrе nоt charging уоu fоr thе services but fоr doc preparation,’ оr they’ll offer уоu а 30-day money-back guarantee.”
Mаnу borrowers fall fоr thе promises, еѕресіаllу whеn thеу аrе dealing wіth whаt sounds lіkе а government program. Mortgage scams wіll uѕе abbreviations аnd program names lіkе HAMP, HARP, Hope Now, EHLP — уоu nаmе іt аnd а scammer wіll mоѕt lіkеlу trу tо uѕе it.
Borrowers аlѕо аrе fooled bу professional appearances, McGill says. Aѕ wіth аll оthеr professions, уоu wіll ѕоmеtіmеѕ find thеrе аrе unscrupulous lawyers аnd mortgage professionals.
“They thіnk bесаuѕе thеу ѕаw іt оn а TV commercial оr (because) іt sounds lіkе а law firm it’s legitimate, but that’s nоt thе case,” ѕhе says.

Your mortgage hаѕ bееn sold — NOT

Mortgage Sold
Mortgage Sold

Banks оftеn buy аnd sell residential mortgages, аnd con artists tаkе advantage оf that. Thеу create fake companies, pretend thеу аrе thе nеw owners оf уоur loan аnd tаkе уоur payments untіl уоu figure оut it’s а scam. Mоѕt borrowers don’t learn аbоut thе mortgage scam untіl thеіr actual lender notifies thеm thаt thеіr mortgage іѕ іn default.
Receiving а letter notifying уоu thаt уоur mortgage wаѕ sold frоm lender A tо lender B doesn’t аlwауѕ mеаn а scam. Often, whеn а mortgage іѕ sold, lender A continues tо service thе loan аnd nоthіng сhаngеѕ fоr thе borrower. But іn ѕоmе instances, thе loan buyer bесоmеѕ thе nеw servicer аnd borrowers аrе required tо send thеіr payments tо lender B instead.
Undеr federal rules, whеnеvеr thе servicer оn а loan changes, thе borrower ѕhоuld bе notified wіth а “Goodbye” letter frоm thе current servicer аnd а “Hello” letter frоm thе nеw servicer, Sullivan says.
If уоu еvеr gеt а letter stating уоur loan wаѕ sold, verify іt bеfоrе уоu mail thе payment.
“Illegitimate people uѕе legitimate channels,” McGill says. “Call уоur servicer tо check. Don’t buy іntо thе appearance оf legitimacy.”
And don’t rely оn thе phone numbers listed оn thе letters, аѕ іt mау lead bасk tо thе scammer.

Steer clear оf reverse mortgage scams

Elderly homeowners аrе easy targets fоr scammers. Thеу аrе mоrе vulnerable аnd mоrе lіkеlу tо hаvе equity іn thеіr homes.
Fraudsters engineer ѕеvеrаl types оf reverse mortgage scams. Reverse mortgages аllоw homeowners whо аrе 62 оr older tо borrow аgаіnѕt thе equity іn thеіr homes wіthоut hаvіng tо mаkе monthly mortgage payments. Normally, thе scammer wаntѕ tо steal thе equity іn thе home оr uѕе thе senior citizens аѕ straw buyers аnd borrowers.
“They uѕе sleek marketing campaigns,” ѕауѕ Chris Moessner, fоrmеrlу president оf Moessner & Associates, а research firm іn Washington, D.C. “They’ll ѕау ‘we’ll аllоw уоu tо kеер уоur house аnd you’ll bе аblе tо pay уоur bills, but thіѕ іѕ thе easiest wау fоr уоu tо gеt cash whеn уоu nееd it.'”
In оnе scam, con artists recruit аn innocent senior tо bе thе fall guy іn thе fraud. Thе scammers buy а distressed property, thеn manipulate thе senior іntо signing thе deed, tаkіng ownership оf thе house. Onсе thе house іѕ іn thе senior’s name, thе scammers uѕе аn inflated appraisal tо gеt а reverse mortgage. Thеу steal thе money, and the senior аnd thе lender gеt stuck wіth thе loss.

Avoid lease/buy-back agreements

Thаnkѕ tо public records, con artists іn mаnу states knоw whеn а home іѕ іn foreclosure. Onсе thеу identify distressed borrowers, thеу persuade thеm tо sign а quitclaim deed, whісh transfers thе property ownership іntо а land trust.
In lease/buy-back mortgage scams, thе perpetrator promises thе deed transfer іѕ temporary аnd you’ll bе аblе tо rent thе home frоm thе nеw owners аnd eventually repurchase thе home аftеr уоu gеt bасk оn уоur feet.
Yоu аrе told іt іѕ nесеѕѕаrу tо sign thе document ѕо thе company саn mаkе thе mortgage payments аnd stop thе foreclosure process. In addition, thе scammer presents а lease/buy-back agreement, whісh specifies hоw muсh thе borrower wіll pay іn rent аnd explains thаt thе borrower hаѕ thе option tо buy bасk thе property аftеr а сеrtаіn period.
Depending оn hоw muсh уоu owe оn thе home, thе scammer mау simply collect thе rent frоm уоu аnd lеt thе bank throw уоu оut оn thе street оr lock уоu оut аnd sell thе house themselves.
“If people аrе coming tо уоu аѕkіng уоu sign аwау уоur home ѕо thеу саn mаkе payments fоr you, run fоr thе hills,” Sullivan says.
 

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Description and Discovery of a Scam Email

 

Not ѕurе іf аn inviting email you’ve јuѕt received іѕ а scam? Read on…

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4Mz_VjSnvg

 

General Anatomy оf а Scam Email

Discovery of a Scam Email
Discovery of a Scam Email

Check thе fоllоwіng out, аnd read lаtеr bеlоw whу thе email іѕ аlmоѕt сеrtаіnlу а scam email іf іt meets ANY оf thе fоllоwіng criteria:

1. Iѕ thе email frоm а public free webmail service ѕuсh аѕ Yahoo, Hotmail, Walla, Sify, etc?

2. Iѕ thе email addressed tо ѕоmеоnе оthеr thаn you, оr addressed tо nobody?

3. Iѕ thе Reply-To address dіffеrеnt frоm thе Sender (From) address?

4. Dоеѕ thе email соntаіn а reference tо аnоthеr email address fоr уоu tо reply to?

5. Dоеѕ thе email соntаіn thе details оf аnоthеr person оr agent оr “barrister” fоr уоu tо contact?

Hеrе аrе thе reasons whу thе email іѕ fraudulent.

1. Email соmеѕ frоm а free webmail service

Nо real business proposal оr lottery winning announcement wоuld bе ѕеnt vіа а free webmail service. If thе email саmе frоm а real company thе address wоuld bе @companyname.com оr ѕоmеthіng lіkе that. Nо bank wоuld uѕе а free email address, lіkе Yahoo оr Hotmail. Nо lawyer wоuld uѕе ѕuсh а free address either; thіѕ includes addresses аt lawyer.com аnd justice.com. Nоr wоuld а lottery company оr аnу person offering уоu “employment” оr offering tо hеlр уоu claim inheritances, consignments оr whatever. It іѕ јuѕt NOT believable.

Sоmе scammers nоw uѕе а variation tо attempt tо fool you. Fоr example, уоu mіght gеt аn email frоm courier@dynamiccourier.com . However, thе REAL email address іѕ frоm а free public Yahoo email account, courierssdynamic@yahoo.co.uk. Alwауѕ check thе LAST sender’s address details frоm аnу suspicious email – thаt wіll bе thе true email service uѕеd bу thе scammers. Yоu mіght hаvе tо retrieve thе header tо dо this.

2. Email іѕ асtuаllу nоt addressed tо you

If аn email іѕ nоt асtuаllу addressed tо уоu оr іѕ addressed tо “undisclosed-recipients”, but ѕtіll offers уоu а huge prize оr аn offer tо acquire huge amounts оf money, thеn hоw саn thіѕ offer bе true? Thе ѕаmе e-mail hаѕ bееn ѕеnt tо hundreds оr thousands оf people аt thе ѕаmе time. Juѕt ignore ѕuсh emails immediately.

3. Reply-To address іѕ dіffеrеnt frоm thе Sender’s address

Mоѕt people wоuld hаvе а common address whісh thеу uѕе fоr everything. Whу wоuld thеу nееd 2 email addresses? I hаvе еnоugh trouble keeping track оf mу single email address! If уоu dо lооk carefully, уоu wіll ѕее аlmоѕt сеrtаіnlу thаt thе Reply-To address іѕ а free webmail service. Again, рlеаѕе dо nоt deal wіth people thаt send thеіr mails frоm а free webmail service. If thеу саnnоt еvеn afford thеіr оwn email service, thеn whаt mаkеѕ уоu thіnk thеу hаvе аnу money оr prizes tо give you?

Actually, аnоthеr reason fоr thе uѕе оf аnоthеr email address fоr replies іѕ bесаuѕе mоѕt webmail services саn detect spam coming оut frоm аn email account, аnd ѕuсh accounts gеt closed rаthеr quickly. Thеѕе email accounts аrе knоwn аѕ “Spammer” accounts аnd thе email addresses thеу direct уоu tо аrе called thе “Catcher” accounts. Aftеr уоu hаvе responded tо а Catcher account, іt іѕ vеrу lіkеlу thаt уоu wіll bе forwarded tо аnоthеr email address knоwn аѕ thе “Handler” account. Sоmе Catcher accounts аrе аlѕо Handlers, but generally thаt іѕ thе scenario. Yоu mау bе forwarded аlѕо tо а “Collector” account іn thе final stages оf а scam whеrе ѕоmеоnе wіll thеn attempt tо convince уоu tо pay thеm ѕоmе “fees”. NEVER pay thеѕе fees. Yоu wіll nоt ѕее уоur money еvеr again.

4. Email соntаіnѕ а reference tо аnоthеr email address fоr replies

Aѕ fоr 3 above, whу wоuld а legitimate business оr person nееd tо dо this? Again, thе address fоr thе reply wоuld аlmоѕt сеrtаіnlу bе а free webmail service. Users оf free webmail services јuѕt dо nоt gо аrоund offering money оr prizes, mаіnlу bесаuѕе thеу thеmѕеlvеѕ саnnоt еvеn afford а proper email service. Juѕt ignore ѕuсh emails. Thеу аrе blatant frauds.

5. Email соntаіnѕ reference tо аnоthеr person tо contact

Aѕ fоr 3 аnd 4 above, јuѕt ignore ѕuсh emails. Whу wоuld а “barrister” оr “security company” оr ANYONE bе ready tо receive аn email frоm you, іf уоu hаvе NEVER dealt wіth thеm before? It јuѕt dоеѕ nоt mаkе sense!

How dо уоu check іf ѕоmеоnе іѕ uѕіng а free webmail service?

It іѕ rаthеr simple. Frоm thе еnd part оf thе Sender’s address field, јuѕt cut аnd paste еvеrуthіng AFTER thе ‘@’ character. Sо іf уоu ѕее ѕоmеthіng likebarclaysbanklondon@mail2world.com, јuѕt uѕе уоur web browser tо access thе websitemail2world.com. Yоu wіll ѕооn ѕее іf іt іѕ а public webmail service. Thеѕе free webmail services аrе easy tо uѕе аnd cost nothing, ѕо thе users wіll nеvеr bе genuine persons оr companies. Thе scammers саn аlѕо create user names lіkе barclaysbankservices@yahoo.com. Dо nоt bе fooled bу impressive user names – аlwауѕ check thе email service whеrе thе email саmе from. If іt іѕ а free webmail service, јuѕt ignore thе email. If уоu саnnоt еvеn find thе website thеn іt іѕ сеrtаіnlу а fraudulent email. Hоw саn уоu bеlіеvе аn email frоm а website thаt dоеѕ nоt еvеn аllоw іtѕеlf tо bе seen?

Anоthеr vеrу simple method іѕ tо lооk fоr taglines. If уоu ѕее taglines advertising ѕоmеthіng else, lіkе Yahoo! оr MSN, thеn іt іѕ а free webmail service thаt thе scammer іѕ using. Examples оf taglines are:
Additional Note

Scammers аrе bесоmіng increasingly sophisticated аnd hаvе published thеіr оwn fake websites frоm whісh thеу send thеіr emails. Plеаѕе read: Identifying Obvious Scammers аnd Thеіr Websites Or, increasingly, thеу wіll hаvе links tо real websites fоr уоu tо refer to, ѕuсh аѕ thе BBC news service оr websites оf legitimate banks оr businesses. However, invariably, thе Reply-To addresses wоuld bе а free webmail address, ѕо ignore thе links аnd јuѕt check fоr thе scammer’s reply addresses аnd уоu wіll ѕее thаt thеу аrе scam emails.

Finally, don’t bе fooled bу strangers offering уоu thе opportunity tо acquire vast amounts оf money! Whу wоuld ANY stranger offer thіѕ tо you? Thеу hаvе families, thеу hаvе friends, аnd thеѕе friends muѕt knоw friends оr relatives іn оthеr countries. Sо іf thе scammer claims tо nееd ѕоmеоnе whо іѕ nоt іn thеіr country, thеn іt саnnоt possibly bе true, еѕресіаllу іf thеу аrе people whо аrе claiming tо deal wіth ѕuсh sums оf money. Also, аlwауѕ ask: (i) HOW аnd (ii) WHY dіd thеѕе people gеt іn touch wіth you? Thе answers аrе (i) thеу gоt уоur nаmе frоm ѕоmе email list аnd (ii) thеу wаnt tо steal уоur money. Thеу hаvе nеvеr knоwn you, аnd thеу nеvеr wаnt tо knоw уоu оr meet уоu оr hеlр you. Thеу јuѕt wаnt tо steal уоur money. Remember that.

Following аrе thе descriptions оf ѕеvеrаl common scams whісh mау bе targeted аgаіnѕt you. Plеаѕе read thеm carefully іn case уоu оr ѕоmеоnе уоu knоw іѕ involved іn ѕuсh а scam.

419 Scam

Thеrе аrе mаnу flavors оf 419 scams but thеу аll hаvе ONE thіng іn common: thеу wіll wаnt tо mаkе уоu pay money іn advance іn return fоr ѕоmе fictitious consignment оr inheritance оr millions оf dollars whісh dо nоt exist. Typically, thе scammers wіll wаnt tо mаkе уоu pay fоr processing fees, drug certificates, legal fees, handling charges, bank charges, etc, аll оf whісh dо nоt exist bесаuѕе thеѕе fees hаvе аll bееn invented bу thе scammer. Anоthеr thіng іn common іѕ thаt ALL thеѕе scammers wіll bе uѕіng FREE webmail services tо communicate wіth уоu аnd thеу wіll аlѕо uѕе untraceable pay-as-you-go mobile phones. Thіnk аbоut іt – іf thеѕе people hаvе access tо millions оf dollars, whу dо thеу hаvе tо dо thеіr business frоm cheap internet cafes? Details оf ѕоmе common аnd active scams саn bе read оn thеѕе links:

https://www.fraudswatch.com/…/romance-scammer/
https://www.fraudswatch.com/…/military-scammer/

Did Yоu “Win” а Lottery Yоu Nеvеr Entered?

Thіѕ іѕ оnе оf thе mоѕt common scam formats аt thе moment. Thеrе аrе mаnу variations оf thіѕ scam. Sometimes, уоu wіll bе informed thаt уоu hаvе won millions, оthеr times іt іѕ lеѕѕ money. Sometimes, уоu hаvе won а luxury car оr а house іn Florida, оr mауbе еvеn а holiday. Thе “prizes” уоu саn win аrе endless. But thеу wіll ALL hаvе twо thіngѕ іn common – (i) thе prizes dо nоt exist аnd (ii) уоu hаvе nеvеr entered thе lottery оvеr thе internet. If уоu dо pursue thе prize, уоu wіll inevitably bе asked fоr processing fees, handling charges, government taxes, etc.

Thе latest variation іѕ thаt thе scammers асtuаllу pretend tо PAY fоr thе cost оf thе fees оr charges. Thеу wіll claim thаt ѕоmе “state agency” wіll cover thе costs involved іn claiming уоur prize vіа а cheque оr bankers draft. Thе idea іѕ tо mаkе thе victim cash thе cheques оr drafts аnd send thе money tо thе scammers. If оnе асtuаllу sat dоwn аnd thought аbоut it, thіѕ dоеѕ nоt mаkе sense аnуwау – іf thе fees аrе covered bу ѕоmеоnе else, whу wоuld іt bе nесеѕѕаrу tо send уоu fіrѕt thе money аnd thеn mаkе уоu send іt back?

Did Yоu Gеt а “Work Offer” vіа Email?

Thіѕ article іѕ fоr thоѕе оf уоu wondering аbоut emails offering уоu thе chance tо bесоmе а “representative” оr “payment collector” оr “payment agent” оf companies thаt уоu hаvе nеvеr applied tо аnd оftеn nеvеr еvеn heard of. Mаnу оf thеѕе companies hаvе Chinese names but аlmоѕt ALL thеѕе emails start оut frоm Nigeria оr Europe. Sometimes, thеу claim tо bе frоm knоwn companies lіkе Ricoh, but іf уоu check thе email domain, уоu wіll ѕее thаt thеу аrе lying.

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Got а Wonderful Employment Offer vіа Email? OK, Yоu Nееd tо Read This…Thеrе аrе а lot оf uѕ Europeans оut оf work, аnd many, mаnу people оut thеrе whо саn dо wіth а ѕесоnd income. Thіѕ іѕ totally natural wіѕh оf аnуоnе whо wаntѕ tо provide bеttеr fоr hіѕ оr hеr family, pay fоr а holiday оr fix thе house uр оr whatever. Unfortunately, people lіkе uѕ аrе bеіng targeted bу а bunch оf scammers whо specialise іn offering part-time “jobs” whісh uѕuаllу involve clearing “payments” frоm “clients” іn return fоr 10% оf thе sum аѕ “commission”.Thіѕ іѕ а vеrу nasty economic crime whісh targets thе mоѕt vulnerable people іn society. Thеrе іѕ nо payment. Thеrе іѕ nо commission. All thе payments received wіll bе fake cheques оr drafts оr fake payments “flashed” thrоugh уоur bank accounts. Yоu wіll еnd uр losing а lot оf money аnd саn аlѕо face jail! Hеrе іѕ hоw thе scams work:1. An offer wіll arrive іn уоur email box offering уоu thе opportunity tо collect payments оn behalf оf ѕоmе unknown company (usually Chinese), іn return оf 10% оf thе amount collection аѕ уоur “commission” оr “salary”.2. Thе scammers wіll thеn request personal details рluѕ а copy оf уоur identity papers. Often, thеу wіll аѕk fоr уоur bank details. Thеу mау аlѕо offer а fake contract fоr уоu tо sign.3. If уоu continue wіth thе “job application”, ѕоmе scammers mау аt thіѕ stage аѕk уоu fоr а small “processing fee”. Thіѕ іѕ tо establish уоur “credibility” аnd whеthеr thеу саn trust уоu tо dо thе real “work”. If уоu dо pay thіѕ fee, thеn thе scammers wіll knоw thаt уоu hаvе funds аnd аrе аblе tо bе fooled іntо thе main scam.4. Nеxt соmеѕ thе payments. Thеу uѕuаllу соmе іn 3 forms:a. Cheques – thеѕе аrе аlwауѕ fake оr stolen cheques.
b. Bank оr Postal Drafts – thеѕе аrе аlwауѕ fake оr stolen drafts
c. “Electronic” payments – thіѕ means thаt thе scammer hаѕ gоnе tо а bank branch оn уоur behalf аnd credited уоur account wіth а fake cheque оr draft. Thіѕ іѕ аn illegal practice called “flashing”.5. Thе scam works bесаuѕе іn mаnу countries, thе banks wіll honour thе fake cheques/drafts/payments аnd credit уоur account wіth thе money, іn advance оf thе actual clearance оf thе funds. Later, whеn thе banks find оut thаt thе funds dо nоt exist, thеn thеу wіll соmе bасk аnd debit thе money frоm YOUR account. YOU wіll еnd uр nоt оnlу losing money but саn аlѕо face charges оf bank fraud оr moneylaundering!6. Onсе thе “payments” hаvе arrived іn уоur bank account, thе scammers wіll thеn attempt tо hurry уоu fоr thе payments оf “their money”. Thеу mау threaten you, thеу mау phone уоu constantly, thеу mау email уоu ѕеvеrаl times а day. Basically, thеу wіll dо еvеrуthіng thеу саn tо mаkе уоu pay thеm BEFORE thе bank finds оut thаt thе funds dо nоt exist.Plеаѕе dо nоt fall fоr thіѕ scam. Thеrе іѕ NO money – аll thе payments аrе fraudulent. Evеn іf уоur bank account gеtѕ credited wіth а payment, thе bank wіll eventually wаnt аll thе money bасk іn full AND investigate YOU fоr fraud. Yоu wіll оnlу LOSE MONEY іf уоu fall fоr ѕuсh аn “employment” scam, аnd рrоbаblу face а jail sentence аѕ well. Thіѕ іѕ а horrible crime whісh саuѕеѕ untold pain аnd misery tо victims.Plеаѕе hаvе а lооk аlѕо аt thе articles wіthіn thе forums оn thіѕ website, аnd dо nоt еvеr dо аnу business wіth people оr companies thаt wаnt tо pay уоu а “salary” оr “commission” іn return fоr thе uѕе оf уоur bank account. Thіѕ іѕ technically money laundering аnd іѕ а felony іn mоѕt countries. Sеvеrаl victims whо hаvе fallen fоr thіѕ scam hаvе bееn jailed fоr mаnу years bесаuѕе thе courts dіd nоt bеlіеvе thаt thеу hаvе nо knowledge оf thе scam. Dо nоt expect аn easy “salary” јuѕt bесаuѕе уоu happen tо оwn а bank account!

Friendship аnd Love Scams

I write thіѕ article wіth а heavy heart. Juѕt recently, wе hаd а victim оf ѕuсh а “love scam” commit suicide. Hе wаѕ јuѕt 30-odd years old, hе wаѕ deaf аnd hе wаѕ а lonely man. Hе fell fоr а love scam, dеѕріtе аll оur warnings, аnd thе warnings аnd advice оf hіѕ family аnd friends. Hе believed hе wаѕ соrrеѕроndіng wіth а lovely girl whо needed hіѕ hеlр аnd advice. Instead, hе wаѕ emailing а Nigerian male criminal whо mаdе thе victim lose hіѕ home, run uр massive debts аnd eventually forced hіm bасk tо live wіth hіѕ mother. Thаt іѕ whеrе hе hanged himself.

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Strangers Seeking Yоur Friendship, оr Lооkіng fоr Romance? Read on…It hаѕ оftеn bееn ѕаіd thаt іt іѕ а tough world wе live in, аnd wіth good reason. Fоr mаnу people, іt іѕ аlѕо а lonely one. Whеn оnе gеtѕ home, іt іѕ оftеn аftеr а hard day аt work аnd іt іѕ јuѕt easier tо read аnd send emails оr pop іntо аn Internet chat room frоm а home computer. I hаvе dоnе this, аnd аlmоѕt еvеrуоnе I knоw hаѕ dоnе this. It іѕ а wау оf relieving stress, share а fеw jokes оr thoughts, аnd mауbе meet ѕоmе nеw friends.Well, thіѕ innocent activity саn bе dangerous bесаuѕе thеrе аrе mаnу scammers оut thеrе lооkіng fоr ѕоmеоnе јuѕt lіkе you. Nоt јuѕt YOU specifically, but аnуоnе whо signs uр fоr public chatrooms оr whо leaves thеіr email addresses іn friendship sites (or аnу оthеr internet site, fоr thаt matter).Typically, іf уоu аrе іn а chat room, аnd а scammer finds you, thеу wіll attempt tо gеt уоu tо give thеm уоur email address sooner оr later. Oftеn thеу wіll gеt уоur email address bу offering thеіr email address first, аnd thеn thеу wіll knоw уоur email address whеn уоu write tо them.In а love scam, thіngѕ аlwауѕ start оut rosy аnd sweet. Yоu wіll ѕее nice pictures оf а lovely person. Yоu wіll bе asked tо send уоur picture bасk іn return. Thіѕ іѕ thе “phishing” stage whеn thеу wіll bе fishing fоr details аbоut you, аnd thіѕ mау bе dоnе vіа chats оr emails. Thеу wаnt tо knоw whеthеr уоu live alone, hоw muсh уоu earn, whаt assets уоu have, hоw religious уоu are, etc. Onсе уоur profile hаѕ bееn established аѕ а lіkеlу victim, ѕеvеrаl thіngѕ will happen:1. Yоur “friend” nоw wаntѕ tо visit уоu but саnnоt afford thе airplane ticket2. Yоur “friend” hаѕ а sick relative аnd саnnоt afford thе hospital treatment3. Yоur “friend” hаѕ а family member іn ѕеrіоuѕ debt whо hаѕ bееn threatened wіth bankruptcy оr gangsters4. Yоur “friend” nоw hаѕ а complicated illness (which he/she hаѕ nоt told уоu аbоut bеfоrе іn case іt “turned уоu off”) аnd саnnоt afford thе treatment

5. Yоur “friend” wаntѕ ѕоmе “proof” оf hоw уоu feel аnd wаntѕ ѕоmе presents

6. Yоur “friend” nееdѕ tо buy ѕоmе “school books” аnd саnnоt afford them.

Thеrе аrе many, MANY variations іn thе ways уоur “friend” wіll аѕk fоr money frоm you, depending оn уоur profile. Often, thеу wіll аlѕо аѕk fоr а credit card number frоm уоu whісh thеу саn uѕе tо mаkе thе purchases. If уоu dо provide thеm wіth уоur card information, уоur card wіll bе maxed оut іn days. And thеn thеу wіll аѕk fоr аnоthеr card.

And thіѕ wіll gо оn аnd оn untіl thе victim hаѕ nо money left. Thеу wіll NOT stop though. Wіthіn а short period оf time, уоu wіll gеt emails frоm ѕоmеоnе whо wіll tеll уоu оnе оr mоrе оf thе following:

1. A strange person hаѕ information аbоut уоur “friend” аnd іѕ wіllіng tо sell іt fоr ѕоmе money

2. An investigator hаѕ information thаt уоu hаvе bееn scammed аnd wіll hеlр уоu recover уоur money fоr ѕоmе “investigation fees”

3. A stranger wіll inform уоu thаt уоur “friend” hаѕ bееn kidnapped аnd wіll bе murdered unlеѕѕ уоu pay thеm money.

Thіѕ іѕ а last-ditch attempt tо force уоu tо borrow еvеn more money tо еіthеr recover уоur original losses оr tо save уоur “friend”.

If thіѕ fails, оr іf уоu hаd earlier аlrеаdу stopped giving money tо thе scammer, thеу wіll ѕtіll NOT stop, bесаuѕе ѕооn уоu wіll hаvе оthеr people writing уоu аgаіn wanting уоu tо bе thеіr “friend”.

Nоt еvеrуthіng оn thе Internet іѕ аѕ gloomy аѕ thе picture I painted above. Sometimes, thіngѕ rеаllу dо work out! People dо find true love оn thе Net. However, аt thе moment, I аm ѕееіng іt thrоugh thе eyes оf а mother оf а dead son, а young man whо hаѕ dоnе nоthіng tо harm anyone, аnd whоѕе оnlу fault wаѕ tо fall fоr а love scam.

Bе safe.

Dave Nerven

A vеrу good resource tо hеlр аnd assist wіth Romance оr Love Scams is:

Internet Love Scams

Online Auction Scams

I confess thаt I’ve bееn scammed bу а scammer іn eBay. It wаѕ а long time ago, іt wаѕ nоt а lot оf money but I dіd nоt gеt а memory card thаt I paid fоr wіth а cheque, dеѕріtе mаnу correspondences wіth thе “seller”. In thе end, I reported hіm аnd hе hаѕ nоw bееn banned frоm eBay.

But now, thеrе іѕ а nеw generation оf much mоrе dangerous eBay scammers оut there, аnd уоu hаd bеttеr bе careful. eBay іѕ nоt dоіng muсh аbоut thеm bесаuѕе thеу dо nоt wаnt аnу negative publicity аbоut thеіr business. Sо thіѕ means thаt thе scammers аrе free tо trу еасh аnd еvеrу day tо sell уоu fake stuff оr goods thаt thеу hаvе nоt gоt оr еvеr intend tо send tо you. Bе vеrу careful whеn bidding оn аnуthіng thаt sounds tоо cheap, еvеn іf thе seller hаѕ а perfect feedback record. And NEVER pay vіа Western Union оr Moneygram. Yоu wіll NOT ѕее уоur goods оr уоur money back.

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eBay – An opportunity fоr а bargain оr tо hаvе уоur money stolen?

Nеxt time уоu hаvе gоt ѕоmе time free, hаvе а lооk аt eBay. Search fоr high vаluе goods ѕuсh аѕ laptops оr drum kits оr fancy plasma screeens. Sее а good deal? Seller’s ratings lооk great? Auction expires soon? Well, bе careful, еѕресіаllу іf thе seller quotes hіѕ email address іn thе auction аnd asks уоu tо contact hіm directly. Bу аll means, mаkе а bid but іf thе seller suddenly сhаngеѕ hіѕ mind аbоut thе mode оf payment аnd asks tо bе paid vіа Western Union оr Moneygram, thеn јuѕt report him. Nо legitimate seller wоuld change thеіr minds аnd wаnt payment vіа ѕuсh services. Aѕkіng tо bе paid vіа Western Union оr Moneygram іѕ simply illegal undеr thе standard eBay terms аnd conditions.

Tо report ѕuсh а seller, gо tо thе eBay Safety Center (usually it’s а link nеаr thе bottom оf thе home page), put іn уоur details аnd lеt eBay check оut thе seller fоr you. Generally, ѕuсh eBay scammers tend tо соmе frоm East European countries, аlthоugh thеrе аrе а fеw іn еvеrу country now.

Sо whаt аbоut thе great feedback thаt thе seller has? Well, mаnу scammers hаvе access tо phished (or stolen) details оf legitimate eBay members аnd thеу аrе јuѕt uѕіng thеѕе details tо post thе auction. Thе scammers don’t еvеn PAY tо list thе auction аѕ thе hijacked members еnd uр footing thе bill. If уоu аrе іn doubt аnd а bargain lооkѕ tоо good tо bе true, thеn lооk fоr thе PayPal Protection оr Payment Protection badges undеr thе seller’s name. If thеѕе badges аrе there, thеn уоur purchase іѕ covered uр tо thе vаluе ѕресіfіеd іn thе badges but ONLY іf уоu uѕе PayPal tо mаkе thе payment.

Sо thе ѕаmе rule applies fоr eBay аѕ fоr оthеr thіngѕ іn life – іf ѕоmеthіng іѕ tоо good tо bе true, thеn іt сеrtаіnlу іѕ TOO good tо bе true.

The main thіng tо remember іѕ NEVER pay fоr аnу auction item vіа Western Union оr Moneygram. Yоu wіll NOT receive thе goods уоu “bought” аnd уоu wіll NOT gеt уоur money back. Thіѕ іѕ а fact оf life whеn уоu participate іn online auctions.

Email Scam: SURROGATE COURT OVER-DUE PAYMENT RELEASED

This is an email received about “ SURROGATE COURT OVER-DUE PAYMENT RELEASED ” is a phishing scam and why not try to contact these people or log onto these sites and enter your data because you risk being stolen.

SURROGATE COURT, 152 GENESEE ST, AUBURN,
NY USA (NEW YORK STATE SUPREME COURT)

OVER-DUE PAYMENT RELEASED. FINALLY, YOUR FUND IS NOW HERE IN THE USA AWAITING TO BE SHIPPED TO YOUR HOME ADDRESS. THIS IS THREE TIMES I HAVE SENT YOU THIS THE SAME MESSAGE AND TODAY IF YOU, FAIL TO COMPLY WITHIN THREE DAYS YOU WILL LOSE YOUR FUND FOREVER.

The reconciliation of accounting data to budgetary data is required under Government Code (GC) sections 12460 and 13344. GC 12460 requires information in the State Controller’s Budgetary/Legal Basis Annual Report to account for funds on the same basis as that of the applicable Governor’s Budget. GC 13344 requires departments to prepare and maintain financial and accounting data for the Governor’s Budget and related documents, and the Budgetary/Legal Basis Annual Report described in GC 12460, according to the methods and bases provided in regulations, budget letters, and other directives of Department of Finance (Finance). By law, year-end financial reports must be prepared consistent with the applicable budget. Information provided to Finance for the Governor’s Budget must be consistent with information provided to the State Controller’s Office (SCO) for the Budgetary/Legal Basis Annual Report. The following instructions will assist departmental accounting and budget staff to reconcile year-end financial reports to budget schedules in accordance with government code and state policy.

Sequel to the above specifications, the management of the Fund Reconciliation Department here in New York City USA, wishes to let you know that every precept regarding your funds has been concluded. You will be receiving your funds from this Surrogate Court any moment from now. We take, keep and make report of every transaction done here in the USA. Investigations gathered by the Fund Regulatory Agency {IMF}, shows you have been receiving numerous emails from several offices requesting you to claim your funds. In some cases, you tried a lot but still the transfer or delivery was not completed due to one reason or the other. The fact is that you are stuck between the chains which make it impossible for you to differentiate the real office from its counterfeit.

We noticed that the only real offices that had ever contacted you in respect to your funds were United State Embassy Benin Republic and Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It was brought to our notice that the former Ambassador to the republic of Benin, Ambassador James Knight, made voluntary effort to bring your funds along to your home address but couldn’t due to some fall-out on your ends. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York came up to make a wire transfer but they said you couldn’t meet up with the fee demand for the transfer, so they gave up on you. In a more proper and legalized manner, the International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve Bank solicited us Fund Reconciliation Department to allow your fund to be written as a Check or Credited as Visa Card and be shipped to your home address through the USA Priority Express Mail. These options, we supposed could be the best, easiest and the most efficient way to have you get hold of your long awaited United Nations approved funds.

Like you were told by the Federal Reserve Bank aforementioned, your funds was transferred from about four different banks; Central Bank of Nigeria, United Bank of Africa Benin Republic, Bank of America and Nat west bank London. In total, your funds were amounting to the tune of USD2.5 Two Million Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars As we speak, your funds have been credited in your Visa Card and also available as Cashier’s Check well documented and packaged. The documented package will be shipped to your mailing address by the USA Priority Express Mail here in NY, USA. The ONLY thing needed before we can POST your ATM CARD or CHECK is the PROCUREMENT FILE of your funds. The procurement file is at the Origin Country of your funds in West Africa Cotonou Benin Republic.

For the purpose to avoiding double payment on your end, we had an agreement with the IMF and Federal Reserve to document every charge necessary until the package gets to your home address. The analytical group of the two offices mentioned above had an accurate sum of USD185.00 for Procurement. So it was constituted and officially submitted to the “Court of Justice” that the ONLY charge you will EVER pay before your package leaves our office here in USA to your home address is USD185.00 for your Procurement File to be signed and conveyed down here in the USA and YOU WILL NEVER pay a dime again as agreed. We are renowned and reputable USA Agency and we don’t like an undocumented process that is why it had to be written down in Court that you will never pay any other money apart from the US$185. The USD185.00 is for “PROCUREMENT FEE” (That is for someone to sign your file on your behalf). USA Ambassador to Benin Republic, “Ambassador James Knight”, who will be coming to the United State in few days will have the Power of Attorney to stand in and sign on your behalf (since you can’t travel down to Benin because of that) so that he can sign and bring along with him your PROCUREMENT FILE to us here to enable us POST your loaded ATM CARD or WRITTEN CHECK to your mailing address via Priority Express Mail without any hitch.

However, according to our agreement with the originated Cotonou Benin Republic, all our communications should be on email for record purpose so follow my instruction accordingly, even if you don’t have the $185.00 try to borrow it and send it immediately today because this is your life opportunity and I don’t want you to lose the chance any more.

Therefore, the days of you being subjected to paying twice Double Payment is over as that is the case with some corrupt officials down there in Africa, whom always strife to subject beneficiaries to hard bureaucratic bottleneck, thereby making it impossible for most innocent citizens spread across the globe and the likes to claim what rightfully belongs to them. Thank GOD that your funds are here in NEW YORK SURROGATE COURT, USA and so we decided to follow the USA constitutions so as to ensure that your money is in your hands this weekend. Without mincing words, it will be desirous if you consciously adhere to the above instruction by remitting the PROCUREMENT FEE calculated to be US$185.00 down to the office of Ambassador James Knight at the USA Consulate/Embassy in Benin so that your ATM CARD or you’re Check depending on your choice, could be shipped to your home address as soon as the Ambassador arrives here with your procurement file. The PROCUREMENT FEE of USD78.00 is PAYABLE in two payment options:

RECEIVER’S NAME FOR WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER OR MONEY GRAM MONEY TRANSFER

Recipient: Name: Clement Eden
Country: Benin Republic
City: Cotonou
Text Question: Fastest
Text Answer: Way
Amount: USD$185.00
MTCN:
SENDERS NAME:

We hope your immediate positive response with payment details or payment slip attachment once you make the payment to enable a speedy shipment of your Check to your home address.

Kindly Still Update Us With:

1. Your Name which you prefer we use when shipping your Check
2. Your Current mailing (Delivery) Address where your Check should be mailed
3. Your Private Mobile Number for the Priority Express Mail to Contact
You when they arrive at your door step.
4. Copy of your ID card
5. Your Nationality/state

Once again, we are sorry for the inconveniences you might have encountered in the past, in pursuit of your funds. Now that this office, Fund Reconciliation Department is involved, you will have no cause to ever regret again as soon as you adhere to the above given instructions.

Regards,
Hon. Patrick Ben,
ADMINISTRATIVE CHIEF JUDGE,
SURROGATE COURT, 152 GENESEE ST, AUBURN,
NY USA (NEW YORK STATE SUPREME COURT)
Phone Contact: +1 (585-633-7753)
NEW YORK CITY, USA
EMAIL : officeservice016@gmail.com

Financial Fraud: Alex Mgbolu Sentenced To Defraud in an International Mass Marketing Consumer Fraud Scheme

Former Canadian MoneyGram And Western Union Agent Sentenced To 6o Months’ Imprisonment On Fraud And Money Laundering Conspiracy Charges

HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Alex Mgbolu, age 45, of Toronto, Canada, was sentenced February 23, 2017 to 60 months’ imprisonment by Chief United States District Court Judge Christopher C. Conner for conspiring to defraud hundreds of American citizens out of more than $2.1 million in an international mass marketing consumer fraud scheme. Chief Judge Conner also ordered Mgbolu to pay $1,372,602 in restitution.

According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Mgbolu, a former Western Union and MoneyGram agent, pleaded guilty in August 2016, to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

Mgbolu conspired with Chima Nneji, William Nneji, and other unnamed individuals between July 2002 and May 2010, to commit the crimes. Mgbolu was extradited to the United States from Canada.

Mgbolui was the owner/operator of a Western Union agency called FA CAM Associates (FA CAM) and a MoneyGram agency also known as FA CAM. Both agencies were located in Toronto, Canada. Between July 2002 and May 2010, international mass marketing fraudsters allegedly instructed hundreds of consumer fraud victims across the United States to send Western Union and MoneyGram money transfers to Canada where the transfers were paid out by Mgbolu at FA CAM. Mgbolu concealed the fraudsters’ identity by entering false names and identification data into the Western Union and MoneyGram computer data bases. Analysts from the Toronto Police and U.S. Postal Inspection Service have determined that over 90% of the payee addresses and identification numbers entered at FA CAM were invalid. For his role in the scheme Mgbolu retained a portion of the money transfers before sending the balance of the proceeds on to the fraudsters.

As a Western Union agent, between July 2002 and April 2006, FA CAM paid out 213 money transfers totaling $453,119 that were reported by the senders as having been fraud induced. As a MoneyGram agent, FA CAM paid out 67 transfers totaling $149,723 between August 2006 and September 2007 that were reported by the senders as having been fraud induced.

After Western Union terminated FA CAM and MoneyGram restricted FA CAM’s ability to pay out money transfers, money transfer checks from other fraud-complicit MoneyGram Western Union agents in the greater Toronto area were deposited into FA CAM’s bank account. The deposit of fraudulently induced funds into what appears to be a legitimate business bank account and the subsequent reissuance of the proceeds via checks and wire transfers helps to launder the proceeds and conceal the identity of the fraudsters is known as “check pooling.”

Overall, between July 2002 and May 2010, FA CAM and the 13 complicit Western Union and MoneyGram agents paid out 907 money transfers totaling $2,127,410 that were reported by the senders as being fraud induced.

Codefendant Chima Nneji pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge before Judge Conner on July 21, 2016. Nneji was sentenced on December 7, 2016, to 45 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay $381,729 in restitution.

The lower restitution amount is due in part to monies compensated to victims as part of the U.S. v. MoneyGram, deferred prosecution agreement in the Middle District of Pennsylvania which established a $100 million restitution fund in 2013 for MoneyGram customers that were victims of consumer fraud. A $586 million dollar restitution fund was also recently established for victims of consumer frauds who sent their monies through the Western Union money transfer system. Like the MoneyGram fund, the Western Union fund was established in January of this year as a result of a deferred prosecution agreement with the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the US Department of Justice.

Codefendant William Nneji remains a fugitive from justice.

The case was investigated by the Harrisburg Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service, and assisted by the Toronto Police. Assistant United States Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel prosecuted the case.

Original PressReleases…

Financial Fraud: SANTIAGO DE LA TORRE Sentenced For Conspiracy to Make False Statements Concerning Highway Projects

Second Manufacturer Of Defective North Carolina Bridge Parts Sentenced to 35 Months In Federal Prison

RALEIGH -United States Attorney John Stuart Bruce announced that today in federal court before United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle, SANTIAGO DE LA TORRE, 45, of Cicero, Illinois, was sentenced to serve 35 months in federal prison ori harges of Conspiracy to Make False Statements Concerning Highway Projects, and Perjury. The defendant was also ordered to serve a 3-year term of supervised release and to make restitution.

In October of 2011 a federal highway contractor discovered a defect in a grouping of elastomeric bridge bearings that had been shipped for use on bridges in North Carolina. An elastomeric bridge bearing is a slab of rubber that is reinforced with multiple layers of steel and placed underneath bridges to absorb shock. The bearings were defective because the steel plates were exposed, subjecting them to the elements and creating the potential for deterioration. The North Carolina Department of Transportation began an investigation  and found  systematic  problems  with the bearings that had been shipped, and in some instances installed, on bridge projects throughout the state. In total, 1,270 of the shipped bearings were found to be nonconforming and defective. The bearings were shipped in connection with 25 different highway projects in North Carolina between May of 2009 and October of 2011. Upon further investigation , the Department of Transportation found that many of the bridge bearings had come from a company named Delgado Elastomeric Bearings Corporation, located in the Chicago
area.

The United States Department of Transportation conducted  a criminal investigation into the creation and shipment of the defective bridge bearings. It was discovered that the North Carolina application to supply the bridge bearings to local contractors had been forged. The name of a teenager with no knowledge of how to manufactur e bridge bearings was fraudulently used on the application. This teenager was also held out by Delgado Elastomeric Bearings Corporation as the vice president of the company, when in fact, the teenager had no idea of this title. This same name and title had also been used on all certificates sent to North Carolina highway contractors certifying the conformity of the bearings with applicable state and federal regulations.

Ultimately,the investigation revealed that the  defendant, SANTIAGO DE LA TORRE, and his brother Joel De La Torre, had forged the name of the teenager on the documents described above. Inspection of the Chicago facility used to manufacture the bridge bearings revealed that the facility did not contain the required testing devices and machinery which would have revealed the defects in the bridge bearings.

SANTIAGO DE LA TORRE committed perjury in the grand jury when he was asked if he had ever seen testing certification documents. In fact, conversations recorded by the FBI showed that the defendant had seen the certifications and was knowledgeable about the use of the teenager’s name on the documents. Prior to the defendant’s arrest, the defendant also encouraged his brother to flee to Mexico rather than face prosecution.

Although not presently incurred, costs associated with the replacement of the bearings are expected over time to exceed $5 Million due to the difficulty in removing the bearings from beneath existing structures, engineering costs, and traffic control. Federal and state agencies have reported that there is no immediate threat to safety due to the faulty bearings, which will be monitored and replaced over time.

Joel De La Torre was previously sentenced on April 21, 2016, and ordered to serve 35 months in federal prison for his role in the scheme.

The investigation of this case was conducted by the United States Department  of  Transportation, Office  of  the Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney William M. Gilmore represented the United States.

Original PressReleases…

Financial Fraud: BRADFORD BARNEYS Pleaded Guilty For a Scheme To Defraud Individuals, Mortgage Lenders And The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Attorney Pleads Guilty to Role in Scheme That Targeted Distressed Homeowners

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that BRADFORD BARNEYS, 51, of Odenton, Maryland, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to conspiring with Timothy W. Burke in a long-running fraud scheme that targeted distressed homeowners throughout Connecticut. BARNEYS is an attorney licensed to practice in Connecticut and has an office in Bridgeport.

According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately 2010 and November 2015, Timothy W. Burke, formerly of Easton, engaged in a scheme to defraud individuals, mortgage lenders and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by falsely representing to homeowners who were in, or facing, foreclosure on their homes that he would purchase their homes and pay off their mortgages. The distressed homeowners agreed to sign various documents that Burke presented to them on the understanding that, by signing the documents, they would be able to walk away from their homes without the burdens of their mortgage or other costs associated with home ownership. Burke also told homeowners that the process of negotiating with the lenders can take time and that, in the meantime, to ignore any notices regarding foreclosure. After he gained control of these houses, Burke rented out the properties to tenants by advertising the properties on craigslist.com and other means and falsely representing to tenants that Burke owned the property.

Burke or one of his agents then collected rent from tenants, and Burke used the funds for his own benefit. He also failed to negotiate with the homeowners’ mortgage lender or pay expenses associated with the home, including the homeowner’s mortgages and property taxes, and he failed to pay any rental income he was collecting to the homeowners. Many of the properties Burke purportedly purchased were ultimately foreclosed upon by the mortgage lender.

Burke undertook extensive efforts to disguise his true identity, and hide his criminal past, from his victims through the use of multiple aliases and business entities, and to conceal the sources of and expenditures from his criminal proceeds.

Between approximately 2011 to at least 2014, BARNEYS participated in dozens of meetings with Burke and with homeowners at BARNEYS’ law offices in Bridgeport. At the meetings, Burke represented to homeowners that he would purchase their properties and presented to the homeowners quitclaim deeds, management agreements, indemnification agreements, and third party authorizations.

At some point after BARNEYS began representing Burke in these meetings with homeowners, BARNEYS knew that Burke had no intention of buying the properties and paying the outstanding mortgages on the properties. Nevertheless, BARNEYS continued to participate in these meetings and represented that these transactions were legitimate. When questioned by homeowners about the status of their sales, BARNEYS would assure them that their sales to Burke or one of his companies were progressing as Burke promised. BARNEYS also knew that, once Burke obtained the properties from the homeowners, he would rent them out to tenants.

BARNEYS also represented Burke and his companies in eviction proceedings against tenants.

BARNEYS pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire a fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. Judge Shea scheduled sentencing for June 13, 2017.

On January 24, 2017, Burke pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of tax evasion. He also awaits sentencing.

This matter has been investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, with the critical assistance of the Middletown, Plainville, Easton and Coventry Police Departments, the Connecticut State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David T. Huang and Sarah P. Karwan.

Original PressReleases…

Financial Fraud: ANSHOO SETHI Sentenced For Abused the EB-5 Visa Program and Blatantly Lied to Investors

Hotel Developer Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Exploiting U.S. Visa Program

CHICAGO — A Chicago hotel developer was sentenced today to three years in prison for exploiting a federal visa program to fraudulently raise capital from Chinese nationals who were seeking residency in the United States.

ANSHOO SETHI, the founder of A Chicago Convention Center LLC, purported in 2011 to build a hotel and convention center near O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Sethi solicited Chinese nationals to invest $500,000 apiece in the project, plus $41,500 in administrative fees to Sethi’s company. Each Chinese national who participated in the project also applied for an EB-5 visa, which allows foreign investors to obtain a temporary two-year visa that could later be converted to a permanent visa upon success of an employment-generating investment. While soliciting investors Sethi made several false statements, including lies about funding and tax credits from the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago, none of which materialized.

The $900 million project never got off the ground, and no EB-5 visas were ever granted to investors.

Sethi, 32, of Chicago, pleaded guilty last year to one count of wire fraud. In addition to the 36-month prison term, U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee also ordered Sethi to pay $8.85 million in restitution to the victim investors.

The prosecution represents the largest EB-5 criminal fraud case in the United States to date.

The sentencing was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Defendant Anshoo Sethi abused the EB-5 visa program and blatantly lied to investors and the United States government on a massive scale,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “Overseas investors spent much time and energy making the difficult decision to invest in the Sethi project, and processing their visa applications – not knowing that the project was built on a bed of lies and forged documents.”

According to his plea agreement, Sethi’s fraud scheme began in the summer of 2011 and continued until February 2013. Sethi told investors that he planned to build the hotel and convention center on a three-acre parcel of land in the 8200 block of West Higgins Road in Chicago, just east of O’Hare. Sethi falsely told investors that his company maintained relationships with large hotel chains that purportedly were interested in the project, including Hyatt, Starwood and Intercontinental Hotel Group. To bolster an additional false statement regarding City of Chicago funding, Sethi signed a “Redevelopment Agreement TIF” document that purported to convey a relationship between the city and Sethi’s company. The document, which contained a bogus city ordinance implying that the project had been approved for TIF funding, was provided to third party brokers who used it to solicit investors.

In all, Sethi raised approximately $158 million from more than 290 investors. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought a civil lawsuit against Sethi and was able to restore approximately $147 million to Chinese investors.

The government is represented in the criminal prosecution by Mr. Harjani.

Original PressReleases…

Stopping Identity Theft Against Seniors!

The Federal Trade Commission has reported identity theft as the top consumer complaint, affecting millions of Americans each year. Seniors are particularly vulnerable, and identity theft affecting seniors rose 200%. Seniors are appealing targets because they generally have higher credit lines, home equity, and more savings than young people. Seniors are also easy targets for e-mail fraud, and charity fraud. Internet scams will often instruct a senior to access their bank account online in order to “correct an error”. Most of the time, seniors will be asked to click on a link inside the e-mail, and they will be taken to a site that looks like their bank’s or credit card’s own site. They will be asked for pin numbers, account numbers and personal information. After that, the identity thief gains access to their accounts, open new credit cards, and steal funds.

Never release this type of information over the internet, unless you are absolutely sure that you are on the correct website. The best way to be sure is to log into a website directly, or call your bank’s customer service department. Most banks and credit cards have a 24-hour toll-free number for customer service and identity theft victims. If you suspect identity theft, immediately contact your bank and credit cards companies. Cancel everything-if you are wrong, then you may experience a little inconvenience while you wait for your new credit cards to arrive. If you are right, and identity theft has occurred, you can save yourself thousands of dollars and lots of headaches if you act quickly.

Seniors are instructed to carry Medicare cards at all times. Their Medicare cards, in turn, have social security numbers printed plainly on the front. If possible, always leave social security cards and Medicare cards at home. If you are going to a new doctor, take it with you, and then return it to a safe place when you come home.

If a business requests your social security number without a legitimate reason, refuse to give it. Health care providers, the social security administration, and the IRS are a few of the organizations that have a legitimate reason for requesting your social security number. Small businesses, such as your veterinarian, handyman, or grocery store clerk should not ask for your social security number.

5 Easy Tips to Help Protect Your Identity

1. Print checks with as little information as possible. Use only your first initial, last name, and address. If you have a business address, use it in lieu of your home address. That way, if your checks are ever stolen, your home address is protected. This is especially important for female seniors, who may live alone. Do not print your phone number or social security number on your checks.

2. Get a copy of your credit report every year. It’s free, and if you find errors on your report, you can continue to get free reports until the errors are corrected. All three credit reporting agencies are required to give you a free report if you have been denied credit, or you suspect fraud on your account.

You can contact all three credit reporting agencies directly. The contact numbers for the three credit reporting agencies are: Equifax (800) 525-6285 Experian (888) 397-3742 Trans Union (800) 680-7289)

3. Protect your mail. Do not leave mail in your box overnight. Get a locking mailbox from your local hardware store. They are relatively expensive, and well worth the investment. Deposit mail in US post offices, or US mailboxes. Do not leave mail out for your postman to pick up, especially if your mail contains personal checks!

4. Shred all important documents. Use a paper shredder to destroy all important financial documents. Identity thieves often use trash bins to “troll” for personal information. This technique is called “dumpster diving”, and is one of the most common methods that thieves use to steal financial information.

5. Never give personal information over the phone unless you initiated the phone call. A common scam is for a thief to call you, and claim to be calling from your doctor’s office. They ask to “confirm” your insurance information, and social security number, which most people supply without thinking. Don’t become a victim of this scam! Call your doctor’s office directly, and ask them if they require the information. If the call was fraudulent, contact your insurer, and the police.

If you are still a victim of identity theft, don’t panic. Go to your local police station, and file a police report. Your bank and credit cards cannot make you legally responsible for crimes committed in your name by an identity thief. Contact the credit reporting agencies, and place a fraud alert on your account. If creditors begin calling, tell them that you are the victim of identity theft, and that you request to be contacted in writing. That way, you can respond with a copy of the police report and a letter. DO NOT PAY CREDITORS FOR FRAUDULENT CHARGES! Many collection agencies purposely intimidate and bully identity theft victims. This is sad, but true. After consulting multiple identity theft victims, I am constantly shocked by how many are also victims of creditor abuse. If you become a victim of creditor harassment, report the credit card company or creditor to the Federal Trade Commission.

The address to report creditor abuse is Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection 55 East Monroe Street, #1437 Chicago, IL 60603 312-353-4423

Financial Fraud: Eric Dentz and Rebecca Dentz Charged With Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice And Tax Violations

Brunswick couple charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, tax violations

A nine-count indictment was filed charging a Brunswick couple with failing to make payments to support the pension and benefits fund of its employees and then obstructing the subsequent investigation, said Carole S. Rendon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

Eric Dentz and Rebecca Dentz, both 39, are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, tampering with evidence, making false statements to federal agents, and failure to file taxes.

The Dentzs are former owners of Dentz Painting Incorporated (DPI), a company engaged in a collective bargaining agreement with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. Through that agreement, DPI was obligated to hire union laborers and to pay over contributions to the union’s pension and benefits funds for the benefit of their employees, according to the indictment.

Audits conducted by the union found that DPI failed to pay over $148,000 in contributions to the union’s funds. Eric and Rebecca Dentz, and their company DPI, agreed in 2010 to make the delinquent contributions to the union’s funds. However, instead of honoring their commitment, they discontinued working through DPI and started a new company, Global Contracting Service (Global), according to the indictment.

Despite this name change, Eric and Rebecca Dentz were still bound by the terms of the CBA. As a result of their failure to make required payments to the union’s funds, agents and investigators with the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General and the Employee Benefits Security Administration, began an investigation into Eric and Rebecca Dentz, DPI and Global. This investigation was later joined by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division.

Eric and Rebecca Dentz repeatedly obstructed the investigation. In particular, after agents attempted to serve subpoenas and obtain documents relevant to the investigation, Eric Dentz threatened them with physical violence. Additionally, Rebecca Dentz repeatedly lied to agents about her and Eric Dentz’s involvement with Global and the location of records responsive to the subpoena, according to the indictment.

During proceedings held before United States District Chief Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr., Eric and Rebecca Dentz continued to obstruct justice by lying about the status and condition of the records. Specifically, the Dentzs lied by stating that the records sought by the grand jury were destroyed in a flood and later supplied agents and the court with a fake cleaning invoice in an attempt to support their false claims. Further investigation revealed that the invoice had been fabricated at Eric and Rebecca Dentz’s request. The Dentzs also obstructed and delayed the investigation by falsely stating that third parties possessed the records sought by the grand jury when those individuals in fact had no such records, according to the indictment.

The indictment further alleges that Eric and Rebecca Dentz also repeatedly failed to file income tax returns with the IRS over several years.

“These defendants tried time and again to dodge their obligations to their employees,” Rendon said. “When confronted with this, they didn’t own up to their failures, but instead tried to obstruct the investigation.”

“As tax filing season is upon us, those Americans who file accurate, honest and timely returns can be assured that the government will hold accountable those who don’t,” said Troy Stemen, Acting Special Agent in Charge IRS-Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the Court after review of the factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal records, their roles in the offense and the characteristics of the criminal conduct. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

 

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Om Kakani, following an investigation by the Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Original PressReleases…

Financial Fraud: SEAN STEWART Sentenced For Insider Trading

Managing Director Of Investment Bank Sentenced To 3 Years In Prison For Insider Trading

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that SEAN STEWART, a former managing director at an investment advisory firm headquartered in Manhattan, was sentenced today to 36 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain for tipping his father and co-defendant Robert Stewart with inside information about five health care company mergers and acquisitions before they were publicly announced.  SEAN STEWART was convicted after a jury trial that ended on August 17, 2016.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “As proven at trial, Sean Stewart used his position as an investment banker to feed confidential inside information about clients to his father so that he could profit illegally from well-timed trades.  Despite his various efforts to cover-up his scheme, including claiming he did not recognize his own father’s name on a FINRA list of those who had traded in advance of an acquisition, Stewart has been held to account by a jury and sentenced to three years in federal prison.  This case and today’s sentence is a victory for all who believe in a fair securities market.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment as well as the evidence presented during trial:

In early 2011, SEAN STEWART, who at the time held the position of Vice President in the Healthcare Investment Banking Group of a global bank headquartered in Manhattan (“Investment Bank A”), began tipping his father, Robert Stewart, with material nonpublic information about upcoming mergers and acquisitions, including with the names of the companies that were acquisition targets, both when the target was an Investment Bank A client and when the bank represented the acquirer, as well as with information that indicated the likely timing of an upcoming deal.

The first of these deals involved the acquisition of Kendle International Inc. by INC Research, LLC, which was announced publicly on May 4, 2011.  SEAN STEWART worked on the deal, representing Kendle.  Robert Stewart made about $7,900 in profits on purchases of Kendle stock executed in February and March of 2011.  When questioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission about his Kendle trades in May 2013, Robert Stewart reported that he used the proceeds of those trades to pay expenses related to SEAN STEWART’s June 2011 wedding.

The second deal about which SEAN STEWART tipped Robert Stewart was the acquisition of Kinetic Concepts, Inc. (“KCI”) by Apax Partners, announced on July 13, 2011.  Although Robert Stewart purchased some stock in KCI based on SEAN STEWART’s tip, he sold that stock before the acquisition was announced, around the same time that SEAN STEWART learned the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) was conducting an inquiry into Robert Stewart’s Kendle trading.

Also around this time, in the spring of 2011, Robert Stewart expressed a concern to co-conspirator Richard Cunniffe that Robert Stewart was “too close to the source” to be trading in KCI stock his own account, and asked Cunniffe to make purchases of KCI call options for Robert Stewart in Cunniffe’s brokerage account.  Cunniffe agreed to do so, and also mirrored for his own benefit the KCI trades that Robert Stewart was directing.

In connection with the FINRA inquiry, FINRA prepared a list of persons and entities that had traded in advance of the Kendle deal.  The list included Robert Stewart’s name.  When Investment Bank A asked SEAN STEWART whether he knew anyone on the list, he initially denied recognizing the name of his father; later, when confronted by lawyers from Investment Bank A, SEAN STEWART acknowledged that his father was on the list but told a series of lies designed to make it seem as if Robert Stewart had independently decided to invest in Kendle.  SEAN STEWART told these lies one day after meeting with his father to apprise his father of the FINRA inquiry and to get their stories straight.

When the KCI/Apax Partners deal was announced, Robert Stewart and Cunniffe reaped profits totaling approximately $107,790.  At around this time, Robert Stewart told Cunniffe that the source of the KCI tip and the earlier Kendle tip had been Robert’s son.  Later, around the spring of 2012, Robert Stewart clarified for Cunniffe that the son in question was SEAN STEWART, who worked on the “sell side” on Wall Street.

In October 2011, SEAN STEWART left Investment Bank A.  A few months later, he joined an investment banking advisory firm headquartered in Manhattan (“Investment Bank B”) as a managing director.

During SEAN STEWART’s tenure with Investment Bank B, based on tips concerning nonpublic acquisition-related information supplied by SEAN STEWART, Robert Stewart had Cunniffe conduct options trading in advance of the public announcements of three more deals: (1) the acquisition of Gen-Probe Inc. by Hologic, Inc., announced on April 30, 2012; (2) the acquisition, by tender offer, of Lincare Holdings Inc. by Linde AG, announced on July 1, 2012; and (3) the acquisition of CareFusion Corp. by Becton, Dickinson & Co. (“Becton”), announced on October 5, 2014.  Investment Bank B represented Hologic in connection with its acquisition of Gen-Probe; Linde in connection with its acquisition of Lincare; and CareFusion in connection with its acquisition by Becton.  The profits that Robert Stewart and Cunniffe reaped from illegal insider trading in advance of the announcements of these three deals totaled over $1 million.

During the course of the scheme, SEAN STEWART became aware that his father was having financial problems.  Rather than loan his father money, SEAN STEWART gave his father stock tips, the proceeds of which Robert Stewart used to benefit himself and his son.

In March and April of 2015, Cunniffe, who was then cooperating with the Government, recorded meetings he had with Robert Stewart.  During one such meeting, Robert Stewart accepted a payment of $2,500 cash from Cunniffe, which was the balance of the proceeds owed to Robert Stewart for profitable trading executed in Cunniffe’s account in advance of the CareFusion acquisition announcement.  Also during this meeting, Robert Stewart admitted that SEAN STEWART once chastised him for failing to make use of a tip, saying, “I can’t believe I handed you this on a silver platter and you didn’t invest in it.”


In addition to his prison sentence, SEAN STEWART, 35, of New York, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release, which includes one year of home detention.  Judge Swain will set a restitution amount at a future proceeding.

Robert Stewart pled guilty on August 12, 2015, to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and fraud in connection with a tender offer and was sentenced to four years’ probation, with the first year to be served in home detention, and $150,000 in forfeiture.

Richard Cunniffe pled guilty on May 12, 2015, to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and fraud in connection with a tender offer, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, three counts of securities fraud, and one count of fraud in connection with a tender offer.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI and also thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.  Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.  Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants.  For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah K. Eddy and Brooke E. Cucinella are in charge of the prosecution.

Violence and Violent Crime – The Gender Consideration

Women and men both commit, and are victims of, crimes but are their perspectives, understandings and interpretations of crime (either as victim or perpetrator likely to be different)? How and why – or even if – is a matter of debate; theorising on these matters is difficult depending on the perspective of the researcher.

Men and women also commit violence but their motivations are likely to be different; men may do so to assert their dominance over a situation, a territory, or person; to ensure that their masculinity is not in doubt. Women may do so in defence of their children, themselves, family, friends and perhaps even their property. However, if women are becoming as violent as men for the same reasons as men, does this mean we are moving in a direction which is irreversible? Would such a trend, if it truly existed, necessarily be a perilous one? More importantly, why does the notion of women becoming violent (or becoming more violent) cause such consternation in society whilst violence by, and towards, men is accepted as part of their masculinity?

Women are statistically less likely to commit crimes, particularly crimes of violence; however, numbers of women being arrested, cautioned and imprisoned for violent offences are rising. Media reports and government statistics all appear to show that women are increasingly involved in crime, particularly violent crime. In England and Wales, the number of females in custody was 4,445 (24 November 2006) with the highest number being attributed to drugs offences whilst violence was second. In Scotland, the figure was 326 (24 November 2006), though ambiguous as it does not specify the gender of (i) ‘lifers’ who have been recalled (ii) those convicted but awaiting sentence/deportation (iii) those under sixteen years of age. Williams states that, in a nine year period, there was a rise of 140% for female offenders incarcerated (1993-2001) despite the fact that offending rates remained relatively stable. In the United States, figures show that although incarceration rates were rising, violent offences by women were going in the opposite direction; women’s involvement in violent offences showed a minimal rise (from 10.8% to 12.3%). This may, however, be reflective of changes in recording, prosecuting and incarcerating female offenders rather than any actual increase in the rate of female offending itself.

Violence is often fuelled by substance abuse, via alcohol or drugs or both and this is the case both for men and women. Males perpetrate the highest numbers of crimes, violent or otherwise, and they also account for the highest number of victims of violent assaults; women, however, as perpetrators of violent crimes in particular are on the however women are apparently working hard to catch up. Certainly, the media portrays young women as being ‘as bad as boys’ when it comes to violence, particularly when fuelled by alcohol; city centres across the UK have a large problem with violence but this is possibly due to an increasing culture of binge-drinking. Indeed, as recently as December 2006, reports of violence fuelled by alcohol were in the news again; this time, however, the focus was not the violence as such, but that the perpetrators of the violence were female.

A BBC article quotes Dr Jon Cole of Liverpool University who believes that, whilst it does not cause aggression, alcohol stops sensible choices being made “You make the easiest choice, which is often aggression”. The same article refers to a study by The Glasgow Centre for the Study of Violence which showed that women were involved in almost half of all the pub fights observed. Further, medical research shows that testosterone levels in women rise by fifty percent in females, but is lower in males when they become drunk.

Violence however is a term which can be interpreted in many ways: one particular study shows females’ understanding and interpretation of violence is unusual (see Burman below). There are accepted definitions of violence or aggression: crime is “an action which constitutes a serious offence against an individual or…state…”; violence: “behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill; strength of emotion or of a destructive natural force”. Aggression: “hostile or violent behaviour or attitudes; the act of attacking without provocation…”.

In the study undertaken by Burman et al, verbal abuse and the spreading of rumours was seen as ‘violent’ or more aggressive than physical violence (such as being punched). If verbal, rather than physical, violence causes more concern girls, should we take this as an indication that girls consider violence to be a psychological rather than physical problem? Why do some girls have a greater fear of violence which is spoken whilst most people, and particularly boys, are more inclined to class violence as a physical assault?

Fear of violence is often more potent as it is the ‘unknown’; the precise time and place of being the recipient of violence is unknown with domestic violence victims, but they are kept on alert because they know it is going to occur at some point. However, from a legal point of view, violence and violent crime, is where physical injury is inflicted and only in recent years was psychological trauma accepted as a ‘violent offence’ (see Protection from Harassment Act 1997).

Given the low numbers of women who offend, both historically and in recent times, it is unsurprising that studies into female criminality were either ignored or undertaken in relation to their interaction with, and response to, male violence and criminality. It is also unsurprising that female criminologists found the need to fill this gap. In the past, women were classified into two types: mad or bad. Most female offenders convicted of violent crimes were seen as women who fought back against domestic violence or who protected their children; others were considered ‘evil’ and historically, were considered witches or concubines of the devil. We may now have a better understanding of criminality, but this has not stopped the ‘bad’ or ‘mad’ viewpoint from being represented by the media, the public and in some quarters of the criminal justice system when females are involved.

Women are viewed as more deviant than their male counterparts as they have not only offended against the criminal code but also against social convention. Whereas social rules and convention have changed over time, women are still considered to be mothers, wives, lovers and workers but not offenders; rarely do we expect women to commit violent offences. Those who do are vilified for years possibly serving longer terms than male counterparts, particularly when they offend against those they are supposed to protect.

Myra Hindley and Beverley Allit both murdered children; Allit did so as a nurse so could be again seen as doubly deviant as her occupation – as well as her gendered role – was one of carer.

It is difficult of course to do a proper comparative analysis without knowing the details of the ‘violence against the person’ offences committed by both men and women. There are a number of ‘assaults’ committed by women which may well not have been prosecuted had they been committed by men; it is impossible to say without knowing more about both the offence and the offender (regardless of gender). Obtaining goods for sale (to provide money to pay bills/food) or obtaining goods – such as shoplifting food/clothing is more common among female offenders than males. Analysis of current statistics shows that the highest number of female offenders committed ‘drugs offences’ with the second highest being for ‘violence against the person’ followed by ‘theft and handling’. For many, women who commit violence do so mainly in self-defence or protection of a child; females are not seen as inherently violent. But is this perception false or misleading?

Most studies of the culture and phenomenon of gangs tend to focus on males (though some do mention ‘girl gangs’ or girls in gangs as a peripheral but distinctly intricate part of a predominantly male gang). However, a problem arises which is twofold: firstly and perhaps obviously, not all female offenders – violent or otherwise – are in gangs. Secondly, there is a danger that the study will produce results more likely to provide an insight into gang culture rather than any comparative study of female and male criminality.

Current statistics show the highest number of female offenders committed ‘drugs offences’ with the second highest for ‘violence against the person’ followed by ‘theft and handling’. For many, women who commit violence do so mainly in self-defence or protection of a child; females are not seen as inherently violent. But is this perception false?

One of the possible reasons behind women committing fewer ‘serious’ offences could be their role as mother/carer. Given that a large proportion of children are either brought up by single mothers or by mothers due to fathers working longer hours (or being the sole breadwinner) women generally have the main, if not sole, responsibility for child rearing. Therefore, the ability for women commit crimes – unless they left their children elsewhere, or were childless – was severely restricted. The risk of being caught and sent to prison – and violent offences generally attract higher tariffs – meant that any benefit of committing a crime seemed unattractive. Of course, this assumes that women who commit offences chose to do so for pragmatic/rational reasons; classicists will be jumping for joy!

In terms of victimisation, women are largely accountable for rape or other sexual assaults but even here the amount of disproportionate statistical analysis is difficult given that male rape and male sexual assault is under-reported and (in some countries) legally ignored. Stigma attached to victims of sexual assault is horrendous for female victims but this is more so when victims are male. This is largely due to men being perceived as (i) the aggressors or (ii) physically able to fight off an assault.

In England and Wales, legislation is quite specific in terms of the crime of rape in that a penis must be inserted into either a vagina or the anal passage (or mouth); so whilst a victim may be either male or female, the perpetrator must be male. In Scots law, the act of rape can only be committed by a man on a woman; male on male sexual assault is just that – sexual/indecent assault but not rape. Where victim and perpetrator are one and the same (e.g. an abused wife retaliates against her husband) there are inconsistencies between the genders. According to CEDAW, women are more likely to ‘to be killed than to kill’ but the legal system discriminates; women who kill their [often abusive] husbands are convicted of murder whilst men who kill their wives are convicted of manslaughter. Thus, if convicted of murder which women are, the only sentence available is life; even when convicted of murder, men and women are still treated differently with tariffs higher for women than men.

Male perpetrators may be more selfish in their approach to crimes; committing offences which are directly of benefit and which give an immediate sense of gain. In violence, men use violence as a first, rather than last resort, as it on two levels it gets them what they want: the first is the object of their attention, the second is status and self-belief in their own ability. Violence for many men seems to be a way to [re]assert their masculinity. Violence committed by women – on the whole – appears to be a last resort; there was no other way to get either in or out of a situation and thus violence was used.

Of course, there are criminal couples: men and women who work together – though not necessarily in harmony – to make financial and other gains. Prostitutes have for many years used (and been used by) male pimps. The men offer protection, security from harassment whether this is from other working women, volatile clients and other pimps who want to ‘muscle in’ on the money earned by the prostitute.

The pimp will use violence as a means of asserting his status has being in control of both the woman and the environment within which they work. Of course, the prostitute herself is committing a criminal offence in soliciting on the street and may herself use violence against her client and other working women. The implied consent that women give to men who pimp them is that violence is acceptable: they will not want nor like the violence used against them but most accept it as part of their lives and also want the volatility of the pimp to be known to others as a way of protecting themselves from other females and clients.

Theorising about the motivations which drive offenders, male and female, tends to mean that we encapsulate whole groups of people by defining them on the basis of individual psycho-social profiles. This may be applicable for instances where groups commit crimes on a large scale, over periods of time, such as ethnic cleansing (which often entails the mass slaughter of males and systematic rape and impregnation of females – as seen in Bosnia for example).

Of course, systematic rape of females – and occasionally males – is a form of violence often used by groups of individuals sanctioned by the state (as seen in war situations) and also individuals in a domestic setting (the husband who forces his wife, girlfriend, etc.) and sexual violence is almost unique in that women – particularly in Scots’ Law – are not convicted of rape. There are cases where accomplice of facilitation of rape is conducted by a female against another female but these tend to be rare. One example would be the sexual abuse of young women by Fred West who raped and abused women with his wife; even here, however, the case showed that Fred West has systematically abused his wife and thus she may have complied and committed these acts to reduce her own victimisation.

Crime in general, whether violent or otherwise, may be more easily identifiable as a male characteristic in society rather than female simply because of historical social conventions. Women had to care for their homes and families; opportunities for women to offend were minimal in that they had limited access to places which would allow them to commit crimes. Men, on the other hand, were often the workers, the drinkers, the socialisers (women entertained their friends, but this was often in homes rather than public houses, etc.) and thus opportunity was greater for them. If nothing else, in historical times, the clothing a woman wore would make burglary (e.g. entering a house via a window and then removing goods) quite difficult though perhaps not impossible! Even in more recent times, women were seen to steal for ‘good’ rather than ‘bad’ reasons: they stole food from supermarkets rather than goods to be sold for hard cash.

Those who were caught may cry and reduce themselves to the ‘helpless desperate female’ and an invariably male security guard or store manager, may find himself torn between chivalry or sympathy towards the woman and his job. If a man was caught in the same act of theft, it is possible that (if denial did not work) then aggression would result in a negative reaction from staff and thus prosecutions of males were more likely.

Given that males generally appear to be more confrontational – and this may be anthropological in origin – whereas woman appear to take the path of least resistance, it is possible that perpetrators of crimes (particularly non-violent crimes) are likely to find that their gender reflects their culpability in the eyes of the law and any enforcement officers.

Over the last few years, and in particular in relation to younger offenders, females are less likely to be able to use their gender to escape punishment (though there may be some instances were this still applies, for instance speeding in cars). Whereas historically women might have been viewed as immoral, but not necessarily criminal, recent years have seen a shift so that they are not only immoral but most definitely criminal and thus should be treated equally by the criminal justice system. Inevitably, however, the public will view the criminal female as more criminal or more deviant than her male counterpart.

Women may also have a more pragmatic approach to criminal activity, violent or otherwise. It might be that they are more careful about exposing themselves to temptation for certain crimes (such as theft, fraud, etc.) or are so careful that they may go undetected. Men may well approach crime with a more arrogant attitude and feel their ability to escape detection is greater than male or female counterparts.

What theories therefore can be applied, if any whether partially or wholly, to violence and the men and the women who use it? It is difficult to state which ‘criminological theory’ can actually be applied completely to criminality without being considered either aligned to one discourse or another even if the intention is to avoid this. It may be impossible to apply the same theories of criminality for men and women given that attempts thus far have failed to provide any conclusive answer into the causation of criminality in female or male crimes.

The problem with analysing the comparison between male and female offenders is that whilst their motives might appear different, this is not necessarily the case. Influences such as biology, psychology, economic and education as well as society in general will have an impact on each individual’s behaviour and their understanding of what is acceptable. Violence is so often used as a means for dispute resolution – particularly in the younger generation – that we may be on an irreversible path.

As seems common within criminology, in order to explain criminality, attempts are made to encompass causation with one particular ideal or theory; it is due to this attempt to treat theories as mutually exclusive which results in failure.

Women are different in terms of their responses to crime and in particular violence, their use of violence against others and their understanding of violence and crime in general. Women have been dominated for so long and now they choose to fight back, they are regarded as more dangerous. They are altering perceptions held over a long period of time; that is not to say women will turn into Amazonian women ready to dominate the world and make men submissive creatures! However, if we – as women – want equality, it seems we have to fight twice as hard (even if that fight turns physical).

The criminal justice system now deals with far more women offenders than previous decades, but this is also likely to be in part attributable to the medicalisation of female offenders in the past. Now that this is no longer the case, women are identified as criminal not [mentally] ill and thus greater numbers are being included in criminal offending statistics. Greater reporting to the police, due to insurance requirements among other things, means that whereas those offences which may have been overlooked for being petty no longer are treated as inconsequential.

Whether one looks at the lack of implementation of equality for women, or whether men’s masculinity is eroded by women’s empowerment, whether abuse victims abuse others so they can gain control and power over another, many individuals commit crimes for reasons understood only by them – and perhaps not even then. Theories of crime, causation and criminality will be at ever increasing odds as elements of classicism, positivism, strain theory or a ‘pick-and-mix’ approach to all three are rejuvenated depending on the year or decade.

Advances in sciences (natural and social) may also play a part in the future of how criminality is considered; genetic or even social predisposition for criminality is not something which is seen on the movie screen, it is a reality which will be hitting us very soon if indeed it has not already done so.

Indeed, September 2006 saw the Labour Government publish their plans to improve families’ potential for achievement by the possible local or even governmental intervention for ‘problem families’. Critics were reported as fearing that the Government was entering the dangerous field of eugenics (so fatally but effectively seen during the Holocaust) or by creating ASBOs for children who were yet to be born on the basis of their parents’ socio-economic status.

Where does this leave the field of criminology? Governments may look to criminologists and other social scientists to address the question of crime and criminality and causes thereof but they may give limited terms of reference for research projects.

Criminology seeks to provide a definitive, exact answer to an inexact and (at times) inexplicable question: why do people (whether male or female) commit crime? Perhaps this is its failure and why, despite a growth of writers on the matter, nobody has arrived at an answer (which I argue is not possible in any event). Sociological, economical, psychological and biological factors all have to be considered and taken into account when dealing with any offender, male or female. Many treat criminal causation theories as mutually exclusive.

Criminological theory – even when considering all the elements therein – seeks to find a definitive answer where it is likely that none exist. Lack of a definitive answer, however, does not necessarily mean criminology has failed; it needs to evolve again. Perhaps for criminological theory, answers to questions are as fluid as the times in which they are considered. Evolution of criminology and the theories therein mean criminologists will have to choose the most logical and pragmatic elements, and discard elements which are obviously flawed (whether in whole or in part). This may be the way forward.

 

Insurance Fraud and Class-Action Lawsuits

We take out insurance policies to protect ourselves and our families in the eventuality of a serious accident or injury. In a certain sense, insurance is a form of gambling: you’re betting a company that something bad will happen, and they’re betting against it. So it is especially egregious when an insurance company rigs the table, so to speak.

Insurance companies are often large, national, or even multi-national companies. In many cases, they’re controlled by private shareholders. Like all big companies, their goal is profits. And the sad truth of the matter is that you don’t make profits by giving out a lot of money. Some insurance agencies deliberately act in underhanded, unscrupulous ways to deny legitimate claims and avoid payouts.

Preventing Fraud

Denying legitimate claims made by policyholders amounts to fraud – and, as such, is illegal. Some of the most common ways insurance providers take advantage of their customers include:

  • Failing to provide necessary coverage
  • Improper or illegal charges
  • Refusing to pay claims

If you’ve been the victim of insurance company greed, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit against the company. However, the odds are good that a large company has taken advantage of many people in similar ways. If this is the case, you and other people who have been wronged in similar ways may be able to file a class action. Large-scale class actions may be better able to secure justice for everyone who has been similarly hurt by the company.

Discussing your needs with an experienced class-action attorney may be the best start to filing a large-scale lawsuit against an insurance company guilty of fraud.

To learn more about class actions and how they can hold guilty insurance companies accountable for their actions, read more…

Financial Fraud: Carl Dean Bullock Charged For Participating In a Lottery Scam And Identity Theft

Los Angeles Man Pleads Guilty To Federal Fraud and Identity Theft Charges Related to Lottery Scam that Targeted Elderly Victims

LOS ANGELES – A South Los Angeles man was arrested today on federal fraud charges for participating in a lottery scam that allegedly targeted elderly victims with promises of cash prizes and cars – as long as they paid taxes and fees.

Carl Dean Bullock, 65, was arrested at his residence this morning without incident by inspectors with the United States Postal Inspection Service. Bullock is expected to be arraigned on a 20-count indictment this afternoon in United States District Court.

A federal grand jury on June 3 returned an indictment that charges Bullock with 13 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft.

Bullock allegedly participated in a scheme to defraud mostly elderly victims in the United States. Using false promises that the victims had won large lottery or sweepstakes prizes, members of the scheme fraudulently told victims that, in order to obtain their “winnings,” they would need to send money to pay for taxes, fees and other expenses. Hoping to collect the winnings, victims sent money to members of the scheme via wire transfer, money orders and cash. The money was sent through the United States mail, as well as through the Western Union and MoneyGram systems.

Bullock allegedly received some of the fraudulently obtained money, and then sent a portion of it to his co-schemers, most of whom were in Jamaica.

The investigation, so far, has uncovered 25 victims – one of whom was 88 years old – who sent nearly $200,000 to obtain their non-existent prizes.

“Fraud schemes like the one charged in this indictment, which promise large rewards in exchange for ‘fees’ and ‘taxes,’ harm vulnerable members of our communities and potentially jeopardize the victims’ ability to make ends meet in retirement,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious because he assisted criminals outside of the United States target elderly victims here.”

“Foreign lottery and sweepstakes fraud cost Americans millions every year,” stated Los Angeles Postal Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss. “When one family member is harmed, the impact can be felt by all. Losses can be monumental, and entire fortunes, inheritances and retirement security can be wiped-out. This arrest demonstrates the commitment of Postal Inspectors to protect our seniors from these unscrupulous scam artists.”

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime.  Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The wire fraud and mail fraud charges each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The aggravated identity theft charges carry a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in prison.

The investigation in this case is being conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, which received substantial assistance from the Glendale Police Department.

Carl Dean Bullock Pleads Guilty On February 15, 2017

LOS ANGELES – A South Los Angeles man has pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud and wire fraud charges for his role in a lottery scam that targeted elderly victims with false promises of large cash prizes and cars that would be delivered when victims paid taxes, fees or insurance.

Carl Dean Bullock, 65, entered his guilty pleas to the two felony counts on Monday before United States District George H. Wu.

According to a plea agreement filed in the case, the lottery scam defrauded victims who were falsely told they had won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes or other lottery prizes, but they needed to pay some sort of fee or tax to collect the winnings.

“This defendant’s fraud scheme targeted elderly victims with false promises of cars and cash prizes,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “All those who receive telephone calls from people promising prizes in exchange for money must be very wary and should take steps to confirm the reliability of the source of the call prior to sending anything.”

In his plea agreement, Bullock admitted participating in a lottery scam in which he and other members of the scheme collected money via Western Union and MoneyGram wire transfers, money orders sent through the U.S. Mail and direct cash payments. Bullock personally received at least $45,000, some of which he shared with his co-schemers, most of whom were in Jamaica.

Los Angeles Postal Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss stated, “This investigation was an excellent example of a partnership between local and federal law enforcement agencies, working together to ensure that the nation’s mail system is not used as a tool for fraud. I fully commend the hard work and countless hours put forth by all of the law enforcement agencies involved, which resulted in bringing this individual to justice.”

Judge Wu is scheduled to sentence Bullock on April 17. The wire fraud and mail fraud charges each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

The investigation in this case is being conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, which received substantial assistance from the Glendale Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Michael G. Freedman of the General Crimes section.

Life Insurance Fraud

Life insurance fraud is a black eye on both life insurance companies and life insurance customers. Both parties have been guilty of life insurance fraud and will be again — especially since, sadly, fraud seems to be on the rise according to most statistical measures.

Research by the non-profit The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud concludes that life insurance fraud committed by all parties costs an average household $1650 per year and increases life insurance premiums by 25%.

Life insurers are most often guilty of insurance fraud in the form of their agents doing “churning”. This is where the agent seeks to cancel your existing life insurance policy and replace it with a new policy that is paid for by the “juice”, or cash value, in your existing policy. Agents do this to earn more commissions for themselves without having to seek new prospects for business. Churning can result in increased premiums for a customer and clearly costs them out of their cash value.

Another insurance fraud practiced by agents, however, is called “windowing”. This is where, being unable to attain a client’s or applicant’s signature on a necessary document but already having that signature elsewhere, the agent holds up a signed document behind the unsigned document, presses it against a window to make the light shine through, and traces over the signature with a pen in order to forge the signature of the client or applicant.

When big name insurance companies have their agents do bad things it makes big headlines, but the fact is that the public is far more guilty of insurance fraud than companies are. And of course making false claims is the thing they do the most, which is why all claims on life insurance death benefit payouts are subject to investigation.

But falsely stating background or financial income information is another form of insurance fraud often engaged in by consumers. They might be embarrassed by their medical history or income, or they may realize that if they tell the truth they will have their coverage diminished or their premiums will be very high. If a life insurance company finds out someone lied on their application they have the right not to pay the claim or not pay the full death benefit depending on the circumstances and the policy.

But there are things that buyers of life insurance can do to protect themselves against insurance fraud, since they don’t have the great investigative resources that life insurance companies do.

Remember, when it comes to life insurance, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There’s no free lunch.

Save all of your life insurance paperwork, including getting receipts for every penny you give your agent, and never ignore any notifications from your life insurance company.

Life insurance is never free and it’s not a pension plan, although certain policies can indeed become self-funding–but they never start off that way.

Never buy any coverage that you feel strongly is unnecessary, never let yourself be pressured, and never borrow to finance life insurance.

Although it can be part of an investment portfolio, life insurance’s number one role is protection against the unforeseen–and most people don’t need life insurance in their later years. It is intended to be temporary.

Yahoo Merchant Offers Easy Payment Processing

If you’ve been marketing online for awhile, you know that processing payments can be a little challenging at times. If you don’t have a merchant account, you may be wondering whether to get one or use a payment service. You may also be wondering if the payment service you are considering will work with your online shopping cart. And if you have an existing merchant account, you’re concerned about making sure the shopping cart program you choose will work with your merchant account. All of those worries disappear with Yahoo Merchant services.

When you set up your online store with Yahoo Merchant, you have a number of options for processing payments. If you don’t have a merchant account, you can easily set up an account with PayPal and use Website Payments Pro, which allows you to accept credit card payments as well as payments through the buyer’s PayPal account. You can also set up a merchant account with Chase Paymentech, one of Yahoo Merchant’s partners.

If you have an existing merchant account that is compatible with the FDMS Nashville payment platform, you can accept payments in your Yahoo Store and process them through your merchant account, at no additional charge. You will not pay monthly or transaction fees to Yahoo Small Business to accept payments with your existing merchant account through your Yahoo Merchant store.

You may also choose to use PayPal Express payments with your Yahoo Merchant store, and pay no monthly or annual fees. With this option, you’ll only pay transaction fees on your actual sales. With Yahoo Merchant, you can also use your existing merchant account in conjunction with PayPal Express, and offer your customers the choice of paying by PayPal or credit card for more flexibility. The more options you offer, the more likely your customers are to buy from your store, and Yahoo Merchant helps you offer multiple options.

Of course, when you choose an online store provider and payment processing option, you want to insure the security of your customers’ information. Yahoo Merchant offers 128-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption to protect your customers, and fraud reduction tools like address verification and IP blocking to protect you.

When you set up your online store with Yahoo Merchant, you’re partnering with Yahoo, one of the most trusted companies on the Internet, to build a complete store, with everything you need to make your online business succeed. You’ll have a professional online presence, the ability to offer gift certificates and coupons, reliable support, several options for payment processing, and the security of knowing you’re working with Yahoo Small Business.

Setting up an online store may be one of the most important things you do. Your online business’s success is important to you, and it’s important to the people behind Yahoo Merchant. When you choose to work with Yahoo Small Business, you’re making the choice to work with the best web services provider on the Internet. Your online store is a commitment to your business. Yahoo wants to make that commitment with you.

Protecting Your Finances and Assets Offshore

If you’re self employed, you’re affluent, you’re married, you have direct clients, business partners or you’re just concerned that you’re overpaying your taxes, there’s a strong possibility that you should be protecting your finances and assets offshore.

For many people, going offshore is like buying insurance against anything from overpayment of tax maybe, to the attrition of assets or wealth as a result of litigation, divorce, law suits or business suspension perhaps – but the one key thing to understand about offshore asset protection is this – if you’re going to do it, do it sooner rather than later…

When it comes to the question of when to protect your assets and finances offshore your financial, legal and tax advisers will always tell you that the answer to ‘when’ is always ‘sooner’ rather than ‘later’ and that simply put, there is no such thing as taking action to protect your fiscal situation too soon – especially if you want to go offshore for some form of direct affluence protection reasons.

There’s a very good reason for this as well – basically if ever you are faced with a large tax bill, issued with divorce proceedings, sued or dragged into the legal system for example then it’s actually too late to do anything at all about protecting yourself, your finances or your assets.

If you believe you ever could be faced with legal proceedings of any sort, if you’ve ever been un or under insured or you are in a situation where in theory a client, patient or associate could issue proceedings against you and you fail to take any fiscal protective action in advance but attempt to take such action after facing proceedings even though you’re certain of your innocence or of being in the right, you will be committing a criminal offence known as “fraudulent conveyance.”

Fraudulent conveyance is the term used for action taken if you attempt to move assets or wealth offshore or to the protection of individuals, entities or locations which are better protected from potential judgment after you have been advised of a pending law suit – so don’t wait, get yourself and your assets the protection deserving today.

And remember – in the world of offshore advice, services and solutions there’s a saying that everyone lives by and it is this “if you’re going offshore, do it right” – i.e., take advice, don’t go it alone – and take professional and qualified advice because if you rush your decisions, if you rush your planning and you get it wrong you run an incredibly real risk of inadvertently falling into government and regulatory compliance traps or even tax avoidance nightmarish situations.

Rhiannon Williamson writes about going offshore – how to do it right and who can benefit from it – and understanding the features and benefits of offshore bank accounts, offshore trusts and investments. Her website ShelterOffshore.com has all the offshore information you could possibly need.

Financial Fraud: MACHLI JOSEPH Charged With Embezzling Money For The Rental Of Athletic Facilities

Former Baruch College Basketball Coach And Athletics Official Charged With Embezzlement

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Catherine Leahy Scott, New York State Inspector General, and Brian M. Hickey, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Northeast Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General (“ED-OIG”), announced today that MACHLI JOSEPH was arrested this morning and charged in Manhattan federal court with embezzling more than half a million dollars in funds intended for Baruch College for the rental of their athletic facilities. JOSEPH was arrested by ED-OIG agents in New Jersey. He will be presented before Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein in Manhattan this afternoon.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Machli Joseph, Baruch College’s former basketball coach, allegedly drew up his own game plan for fraud, stealing more than half a million dollars meant for the college that he instead spent on himself. Embezzling money from a public college is no game, and for allegedly taking criminal advantage of his control over Baruch’s basketball courts, Joseph will now face federal charges in a court of law. We thank the New York State Inspector General and Department of Education Office of Inspector General for their excellent investigative work in this case.”

New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said: “This once-trusted college athletic official allegedly abused his position and the facilities he was entrusted with to steal more than a half million dollars in public funds to use for his own personal benefit. These crimes, as alleged, were clearly symptoms of the problematic policies and oversight throughout CUNY facilities that I am currently investigating as a separate matter. I truly believe critical criminal cases like this one today come together only through effective law enforcement partnerships, and I thank U.S. Attorney Bharara and Agent-in-Charge Hickey and their offices for their work on this case.”

ED-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Brian M. Hickey said: “Today’s action alleges that Mr. Joseph knowingly abused his position of trust to steal funds from the very ones he promised to serve – Baruch College students. That is unacceptable. As the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Education, we will continue to aggressively pursue those who misappropriate education funds for their own purposes. America’s students and taxpayers deserve nothing less.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint filed yesterday in Manhattan federal court:

MACHLI JOSEPH served as an athletic department official at Baruch College between 2002 and 2016. He served as Baruch’s women’s basketball head coach between 2004 and 2014, its men’s basketball coach in 2002, as assistant athletic director from 2003 to 2011 and as associate athletic director from 2011 until August 2016. At times when the Baruch College gym was not being used by the school’s athletic teams, it could be rented out to outside parties. In his administrative capacity, JOSEPH had sole control over those gym rentals and their scheduling.

On numerous occasions between 2010 and 2016, JOSEPH rented the gym to outside parties, ostensibly on behalf of Baruch College. In instructing the renting parties on how to provide payment, however, JOSEPH directed that payment be made to entities that were not, in fact, connected to Baruch College. Instead, they were entities with bank accounts over which JOSEPH had personal control, some of which merely sounded like Baruch-affiliated entities. On several occasions, JOSEPH simply directed that payment be made directly to himself or individual associates of his. Many of these funds were ultimately spent on personal expenses and items for JOSEPH and his family, including renovations to his home in New Jersey. All told, and as alleged in the Complaint, the scheme improperly diverted approximately $600,000 of payments intended for Baruch College.


JOSEPH, 42, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, has been charged with one count of embezzlement and misapplication concerning a program receiving federal funds. The charge carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of ED-OIG and the New York State Inspector General’s Office, and noted that the investigation is continuing.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Martin S. Bell and Catherine E. Geddes are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Insurance Fraud: Yoisler Herrera-Enriquez Pled Guilty For Defrauded Automobile Insurance Companies

Wyoming Man Fifth Person To Plead Guilty To Staged Automobile Accident Fraud

The Fraud Ring Operated Three Therapy Clinics in Michigan from 2012 to 2015

         GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Yoisler Herrera-Enriquez, age 31, a massage therapist from Wyoming, Michigan, pled guilty in federal court today to conspiracy to commit mail fraud related to a staged automobile accident ring that operated in West Michigan from 2012 to 2015. Herrera-Enriquez faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment and will be ordered to pay restitution to the automobile insurance companies that were defrauded. Herrera-Enriquez is the fifth individual to plead guilty. Previously convicted were: Gustavo Acuna-Rosa, 29, and, Eduardo Pardo-Oiz, 34, formerly from Lansing; Dolis Rojas-Lopez, 31, of Wyoming; and Yosvany Gonzalez-Duran, 41, of Lansing.

“This staged automobile accident ring operated a sophisticated fraud over several years in our community,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge. “The ring caused significant losses to numerous Michigan no-fault automobile insurance carriers and diverted limited local law enforcement resources from legitimate police work, simply so that an automobile accident report could be completed for a fraudulent automobile accident. Vigorous prosecution of those that take advantage of our community remains a priority of my office.”

The staged automobile accident ring operated three therapy clinics, Revive Therapy Center and HH Rehab Center, in Wyoming, Michigan, and Renue Therapy Center in Lansing, Michigan, from April 2012 to May 2015. The ring recruited and paid cash to individuals to stage automobile accidents and obtain police reports so that automobile insurance claims could be opened with their insurance companies. Herrera-Enriquez, and others, then told the accident participants what symptoms to present to a physician affiliated with the ring so that she would sign a prescription for physical therapy. The accident participants would then seek unnecessary physical therapy treatment with Herrera-Enriquez and others at the clinics. Typically, after a few therapy sessions, the accident participants would sign blank therapy treatment forms that would be signed by Herrera-Enriquez or other massage therapists to make it appear as if the accident participants were obtaining treatment when they truly were not. The therapy clinics then used the treatment forms to send false insurance claims through the United States mail to automobile insurance companies for therapy treatment that was either not necessary or not actually provided.

“Criminal groups often believe they are employing ingenious techniques to cheat the system,” explained Steve Francis, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations, Detroit Field Office. “Sadly, we all suffer the consequences when higher rates get passed on to the consumers due to the increased costs of business. HSI will continue to aggressively target these schemes.”

“Today’s guilty plea should serve notice once again that the FBI will not stand by idly while criminals engage in financial fraud schemes which negatively impact insurance companies and policy holders”, added David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Detroit Division.

Three others are facing similar charges in a third superseding indictment that will proceed to trial on March 7, 2017: Belkis Soca-Fernandez and David Sosa-Baladron, of Tampa, Florida, and Antonio Ramon Martinez-Lopez, of Port Richey, Florida. The charges in the third superseding indictment are merely accusations, and these defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

The Grand Rapids Offices of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are handling the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald M. Stella is handling the prosecution.

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Financial Fraud: WILLIS D. “BILL” LONN, JR. For Mail Fraud, Tax Evasion, And Money Laundering

Long-time Manager of Hoquiam Wood Shavings Business Sentenced to Prison for Mail Fraud, Tax Evasion, Money Laundering and Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property

Stole more than $1.3 Million from Family Business and then Started Competing Company after being Fired for Theft

The long-time manager of a Hoquiam wood shavings business was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to three years in prison and three years of supervised release for thirteen federal felonies related to his theft of $1.3 million from a family business, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. WILLIS D. “BILL” LONN, JR., 68, of Aberdeen was convicted in October 2016 of nine counts of mail fraud, two counts of income tax evasion, one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count of interstate transportation of stolen property following a six-day trial. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle said LONN “profoundly abused the trust of his employer [and] callously betrayed family members and took what belonged to the company.”

“This defendant did not commit just a single act of embezzlement, rather, over the course of years, he stole from the company almost every day,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “He betrayed the trust of his family members to satisfy his greed and then used the stolen money to start his competing business harming his victims even further.”

According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, LONN was a long time manager for Long Beach Shavings Company (LBS). The company was owned by LONN’s uncle and cousins and was based in California. The company had one plant in Hoquiam, Washington where it processed wood shavings for use on farms, at horse shows or in pet stores. LONN had worked at the Hoquiam plant for about a decade when he launched a scheme in the 2000s to steal and sell the wood shavings products for his own enrichment. LONN did this by selling the shavings directly to customers in Washington and Oregon without turning the proceeds over to the company. Later in the scheme, LONN arranged to get wood chips for free from a Montesano lumber mill, but he informed the parent company that an entity named M & R Lumber needed to be paid for the wood shavings. LONN posed as M & R Lumber and created phony invoices that he mailed to LBS to bill them for the shavings. LONN then kept the money. Between the two schemes LONN obtained more than $1.3 million from LBS. He was terminated by the company in 2011 when the full scope of the scheme came to light.

Testimony at trial revealed that LONN never paid income taxes on the ill-gotten gain in tax years 2009 and 2010. Had LONN reported the income his tax bill for those years would have increased by more than $80,000.

“At this time of year most Americans are busy fulfilling their obligations as citizens of our country by preparing and filing honest and accurate tax returns. However, a small percentage of the population selfishly shuns their civic duty by dodging the tax laws that the majority of us observe,” stated Special Agent in Charge Darrell Waldon of IRS Criminal Investigation. “When this happens, IRS Special Agents stand ready to defend our nation’s tax system by bringing scofflaws to justice and ensuring a level playing field for all of us.”

Anthony Galetti, Inspector in Charge of Seattle Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, stated, “Today’s sentencing confirms that anyone who uses the U.S. Mail to operate a fraud scheme will be held accountable. I’m pleased to see justice in a case which had such an impact on the community of Hoquiam.”

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brian D. Werner and Nicholas Manheim.

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Cyber Crime: Ercan Findikoglu Sentenced for Organizing And Carrying Out Three Cyberattacks On The Global Financial System

Defendant Was the Principal Organizer of Cybercrimes That Netted More Than $55 Million in Proceeds for the Members of a Cybercrime Organization

Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, Ercan Findikoglu, a Turkish citizen also known by the online nicknames “Segate,” “Predator,” and “Oreon,” was sentenced to eight years for his leadership role in organizing and carrying out three cyberattacks on the global financial system between 2011 and 2013 that caused more than $55 million in losses. Findikoglu pleaded guilty on March 1, 2016, to computer intrusion conspiracy, access device fraud conspiracy, and effecting transactions with unauthorized access devices. In addition, as part of the sentence, the Court ordered Findikoglu to pay $55,080,226.14 in restitution. Today’s proceeding was held before United States District Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto.

The sentence was announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and David E. Beach, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, New York Field Office.

“Findikoglu was a skilled hacker who chose to use his considerable computer talents for criminal financial gain and to wreak economic havoc, rather than for legitimate pursuits. The defendant was responsible for hacking into computer networks of financial institutions across the globe and causing tens of millions of dollars in losses. Today’s sentence effectively neutralizes Findikoglu for years, and also should serve as a strong warning to those who seek to abuse their technical skills to breach the networks of trusted financial institutions,” stated United States Attorney Capers. Mr. Capers praised the extraordinary efforts of the Secret Service in investigating these complex network intrusions.

“Today’s sentencing brings one of the world’s most prolific cyber-criminals to justice,” stated Special Agent in Charge David Beach of the New York Field Office. “The relentless pursuit by the Secret Service and our international partners to identify and apprehend such criminals demonstrates the success of the law enforcement community to safeguard our nation’s financial infrastructure.”

 

According to public court filings, Findikoglu and his co-conspirators used sophisticated intrusion techniques to hack into the systems of credit and debit card processing companies, manipulated network administrator privileges at the victim card processing companies, manipulated account balances of prepaid debit cards to eliminate withdrawal limits on those cards, and stole the personal identification numbers (PINs) associated with the compromised debit cards. Findikoglu and his co-conspirators then disseminated the stolen card numbers and PINs worldwide to trusted associates who encoded magnetic stripe cards with the compromised debit card data. The associates then distributed these cards to teams of cashing crews, who used the cards to make fraudulent ATM withdrawals on a massive scale across the globe. As a result of the effective elimination of withdrawal limits, these cyber-attacks were known as “unlimited operations.”

Findikoglu organized and carried out three such unlimited operations. In the first operation on February 27 and 28, 2011, Findikoglu’s cashing crews withdrew approximately $10 million through approximately 15,000 fraudulent ATM withdrawals in 18 countries. In a second operation on December 21 and 22, 2012, Findikoglu’s cashing crews withdrew approximately $5 million through approximately 5,000 fraudulent ATM withdrawals in 20 countries. During this second operation, in New York alone, cashers conducted more than 700 fraudulent ATM withdrawals, totaling nearly $400,000 in losses, at more than 140 different ATM locations over the course of just two and a half hours. In a third operation on February 19 and 20, 2013, Findikoglu’s cashing crews withdrew approximately $40 million through approximately 36,000 fraudulent ATM withdrawals in 24 countries. During this third operation, in New York alone, cashers conducted nearly 3,000 fraudulent ATM withdrawals, totaling approximately $2.4 million in losses, over the course of approximately 10 hours.

Findikoglu was paid a significant portion of the illegal proceeds from these unlimited operations.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security & Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Douglas M. Pravda, Richard M. Tucker, and Saritha Komatireddy are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant United States Attorney Brian Morris of the Office’s Civil Division is responsible for the forfeiture of assets. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance.

The Defendant:

 

ERCAN FINDIKOGLU

Aliases: Segate, Predator, Oreon

Age: 35

Nationality: Turkish

 

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 13-CR-440 (KAM)

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Financial Fraud: Donny Stephen Marks Pled Guilty to One Count of Mail Fraud And Money Laundering

Donnie Marks Sentenced for Role in Fortune Telling Scheme

Donnie and Sandra Marks Ran ‘Readings By Catherine’ in Charlottesville

Charlottesville, VIRGINIA – The former business manager of a fortune-teller business located on Seminole Trail in Charlottesville was sentenced today in Federal court on charges that he committed mail fraud and laundered more than $1 million in money stolen from victims by his wife and co-defendant, Acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle announced.

Donny Stephen Marks, 43, of Charlottesville, previously pled guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. Today in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville, Donny Marks was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison and four years of supervised releases thereafter. His wife, Sandra Stephenson Marks, a.k.a. “Catherine Marks,” 42, also of Charlottesville, previously pled guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of money laundering. In November 2016 she was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. The two have been ordered to repay over $5.4 million in restitution to the victims of their scheme.

According to evidence presented at previous hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald M. Huber, Sandra Marks and Donnie Marks operated the business “Readings by Catherine” on Seminole Trail in Charlottesville, which offered services such as palm readings, candle readings, tarot card readings, astrological readings and spiritual readings to clients. Sandra Marks provided direct customer services while Donnie Marks managed the affairs of the business.

Sandra Marks has admitted, through a statement of facts submitted to the court and signed by the defendant, that she enriched herself by telling her clients she was clairvoyant and able to see into the past and the future. Marks also said she told her clients she had a “gift from god” and was able to communicate with spirits and guides from god, including the “Prince of Illusion,” who relayed information to her about clients.

Sandra Marks further admitted that she would tell clients that she had learned from the spirits and guides that the client, and/or the client’s family, was suffering from a “curse” and a “dark cloud” that occurred in the past. Marks would tell clients they would need to make a sacrifice of large amounts of money and valuables, whereby she would bury the money and items in a box to be “cleansed.” Marks explained to her clients that the money and property would be returned once the “work” was complete. Additionally, Marks would tell the clients that the money and property would not be used for Marks’ own personal benefit.

Donny Marks role in the scheme was one of a business manager, both of his wife and the proceeds from the scheme. Donny Marks admitted through a signed statement of facts submitted to the court that he managed Sandra Marks’ work, opened business bank accounts and transferred funds between business and personal bank accounts.

Contrary to her representations to clients, Donnie Marks and Sandra Marks kept and used money and other valuables provided by their clients for their own personal use and enjoyment and that of their family. When Sandra and Donnie Marks had used all of a client’s money, Sandra and Donnie Marks would find new clients to fund the scheme, or tell old clients that additional money was required to continue her “work.”

The investigation of the case was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Secret Service, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and the Albemarle County Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Ronald M. Huber prosecuted the case for the United States.

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Financial Fraud: Mark J. Schultz Pleaded Guilty For Wire Fraud and Mail Fraud Conspiracy

Leawood Attorney Pleads Guilty to Fraud Conspiracy

Law Partner Sentenced for $1.2 Million Fraud Scheme

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Leawood, Kan., attorney pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a fraud conspiracy, while his former law partner was sentenced for stealing more than $1.2 million from St. Luke’s Health System, a client of their former law firm.

Mark J. Schultz, 57, of Leawood, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips to a federal information that charges him with participating in a wire fraud and mail fraud conspiracy.

Alan B. Gallas, 65, of Kansas City, Mo., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips to one year and one day in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Gallas to pay $1,224,264 in restitution to St. Luke’s. Gallas must report to the Bureau of Prisons by April 10, 2017, to begin serving his sentence.

Schultz and Gallas were attorneys and partners in the law firm of Gallas & Shultz in Kansas City, Mo., which specialized in collection work for corporations. Gallas surrendered his license to practice law in Missouri and Kansas in November 2015.

On April 13, 2016, Gallas pleaded guilty to mail fraud. Gallas admitted that he engaged in a scheme from 2009 through July 2015 to defraud a client, St. Luke’s Health System, of monies collected by his law firm totaling $1,224,264.

By pleading guilty today, in a separate but related case, Schultz admitted that he participated in the conspiracy from January 2014 through July 2015. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Schultz must forfeit to the government any property he derived from the proceeds of the wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy.

Gallas was the attorney responsible for the St. Luke’s account at the law firm. After attempting to collect on patient accounts for a period of time, St. Luke’s would transfer its larger outstanding patient accounts to Gallas & Shultz for collection. As payments on patient accounts were received, the payments were logged into the case management system for the appropriate patient account. The monies were then deposited into the law firm’s trust account. On a periodic basis, often monthly, the firm would remit the patient payments collected to St. Luke’s.

Gallas admitted that he caused personnel at the law firm to withhold money from payments made to St. Luke’s by placing thousands of payments on “hold” status, then directing those funds be transferred from the trust account to the firm’s operating account. The pattern of not remitting some payments to St. Luke’s escalated significantly from 2012 to 2015. According to court documents, Gallas withheld 601 payments totaling $211,391 in 2012. Gallas withheld 699 payments totaling $266,696 in 2013. Gallas withheld 625 payments totaling $227,892 in 2014. Through the month of July 2015, Gallas withheld 625 payments totaling $216,845.

Schultz admitted today that he agreed with Gallas and others to transfer funds from the trust account into the law firm’s operating account. The amount of funds diverted by Schultz, and the amount of restitution Schultz must pay to St. Luke’s for the total amount of its loss, will be determined by the court at Schultz’s sentencing hearing.

Under federal statutes, Schultz is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul S. Becker. They were investigated by the FBI.

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