Father and Son Allegedly Linked to Separate Federal Fraud Schemes Arrested at LAX as They Prepared to Leave U.S. with One-Way Plane Tickets to Russia

May 11, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 10, 2013 released the following:

“LOS ANGELES— A father and son were arrested yesterday afternoon as they were about to board a plane to Moscow on federal fraud charges that include allegations that the older man sent tens of thousands of bogus “invoices” to small business owners in California in a shakedown scheme that caused at least 5,000 victims to send $225 to a fake company that purported to be a state agency.

The men—Viktor Ryzhkin, 45, of the Little Armenia section of Los Angeles; and his son, Evgenii Ryzhkin, 22, who lived with his father—were arrested late yesterday afternoon at Los Angeles International Airport by federal agents as they prepared to board a Transaero Airlines flight to Russia. The Ryzhkins, both of whom are Russian nationals, and two other family members, all had one-way tickets to Moscow that had been purchased on Monday.

According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday afternoon in United States District Court, Viktor Ryzhkin targeted more than 170,000 California small business owners in a mail fraud scheme that would have brought in nearly $40 million had all of the potential victims complied with demands to send payments to “Corporate Business Filings,” a Beverly Hills company set up and controlled by Viktor Ryzhkin.

The small business owners targeted in this scheme received invoices that appeared to be from the state of California, notifying them that they each owed $225 to the state and directing them to fill out certain forms related to their businesses. The letters sent to the victims—all of which were sent over the course of several days at the end of March and beginning of April—each listed the correct, publicly available California Small Business Administration entity number assigned to the particular small business. The business owners were told in the letters that they would face $250 penalties if they did not remit payment by April 15, 2013, and did not fill out the forms as directed. The letters and invoices that appeared to be from the state of California were completely bogus.

Investigators believe that Viktor Ryzhkin became aware of the investigation into his scheme in late last month. Viktor and Evgenii Ryzhkin, accompanied by the two family members, were about to board a plane at 4:00 p.m. yesterday, when they were arrested by United States Postal Inspectors.

Evgenii Ryzhkin was charged in a separate criminal complaint filed yesterday in United States District Court. Evgenii Ryzhkin is charged with participating in a conspiracy to take over home equity lines of credit in a scheme that caused at least $1.2 million in losses. According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against Eygenii Ryzhkin, he was caught on surveillance video depositing a stolen check linked to a hijacked HELOC account.

Both Ryzhkins are expected to make their initial court appearances this afternoon in United States District Court.

Viktor Ryzhkin is charged in a criminal complaint with mail fraud, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

Evgenii Ryzhkin is charged in a separate criminal complaint with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, each of which carries a statutory maximum sentence of sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

This two cases against the Ryzhkins are being investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service. The Federal Bureau of Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection assisted during yesterday’s arrests.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Grand Jury Indicts 11 Allegedly Linked to an Inland Empire Loan Modification Scam That Targeted Financially Distressed Homeowners

September 13, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 12, 2012 released the following:

“LOS ANGELES— Federal agents this morning arrested 10 defendants who worked at a Rancho Cucamonga-based business that allegedly offered bogus loan modification programs to financially distressed homeowners. As a result of the scheme allegedly run out of 21st Century Real Estate Investment Corp. and several related companies, more than 4,000 financially distressed homeowners lost at least $7 million in fees they paid to the company, and many homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure.

Those taken into custody this morning were among 11 defendants named in a federal indictment unsealed today following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General.

According to the indictment, during an 18-month period that began in June 2008, a Rancho Cucamonga woman, Andrea Ramirez, operated 21st Century and several other companies. According to the indictment, 21st Century “defrauded financially distressed homeowners by making false promises and guarantees regarding 21st Century’s ability to negotiate loan modifications from the homeowners’ mortgage lenders, falsely representing that 21st Century was operating a loan modification program sponsored by the United States government, instructing homeowners to cease communication with their mortgage lenders and to cease making their mortgage payments.”

“The housing crisis provided fraud artists a new avenue to exploit people in financial distress,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “Many of the victims in this alleged scheme were in desperate financial straits, and shameless financial predators promised relief they could not deliver. As a result, many homeowners went into foreclosure and now have to deal with the ramifications of losing their homes.”

Ramirez and the other 21st Century employees contacted distressed homeowners through cold calls, newspaper ads and mailings, and various 21st Century-controlled websites that advertised loan modification services. Once they contacted the distressed homeowners, according to the indictment, Ramirez and other 21st Century employees often falsely told clients that the company was operating through a federal government program, that they would be able to obtain new mortgages with specific interest rates and reduced payments, and that attorneys would negotiate loan modifications with their lenders. Ramirez and other 21st Century employees regularly instructed financially distressed homeowners to cease making mortgage payments to their lenders and to cut off all contact with their lenders because they were being represented by 21st Century. On some occasions, Ramirez and other 21st Century employees would tell homeowners that 21st Century was using the fees paid by the homeowner to make mortgage payments, when in fact Ramirez and 21st Century simply were keeping the homeowner’s money.

Christy Romero, Special Inspector General at SIGTARP, stated: “Ramirez and her co-conspirators are charged with fraudulently operating 21st Century to exploit the hardships of homeowners fighting to keep a roof over their head. As alleged, these con artists swindled distressed homeowners by lying about their affiliation with federal housing programs and giving money-back guarantees that the homeowners would get a lower mortgage payment if they paid an advance fee. SIGTARP and our law enforcement partners are committed to shutting down schemes that prey on those who can least afford it by falsely claiming an affiliation with TARP’s housing programs.”

Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office, said: “Using the guise of a federally sponsored loan modification program and the assurance of a qualified legal team, the defendants preyed on financially distressed homeowners allegedly depriving them of much needed money and property. Those who find ways to fraudulently benefit from government programs meant to help struggling homeowners keep their homes will be brought to justice.”

The 11 defendants named in the indictment are:

  • Andrea Ramirez, who also used the names Andrea Parker and Lisa Evans, 44, of Rancho Cucamonga;
  • Christopher Paul George, 42, Rancho Cucamonga, who surrendered this morning to authorities;
  • Michael Bruce Bates, who also used the names Michael Bruce Myers and Robert Allen Castro, 61, of Moreno Valley;
  • Crystal Taiwana Buck, 37, of Long Beach;
  • Michael Lewis Parker, 34, of Pomona, who is currently a fugitive being sought by federal authorities;
  • Catalina Deleon, 35, of Glendora;
  • Hamid Reza Shalviri, 50, Montebello, who self-surrendered this morning after being contacted by federal agents;
  • Yadira Garcia Padilla, 35, of Rancho Cucamonga;
  • Mindy Sue Holt, 53, of San Bernardino;
  • Iris Melissa Pelayo, 42, of Upland; and
  • Albert DiRoberto, 59, of Fullerton.

The defendants arrested this morning are expected to be arraigned this afternoon during their initial court appearances in United States District Court in Riverside.

“Fraudulent loan modification scams affect consumers at the most basic level, jeopardizing their ability to retain ownership of their homes,” said B. Bernard Ferguson, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service-Los Angeles Division. “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will investigate these crimes to protect consumers and when the nation’s mail system is used for illegal or dangerous use.”

Steve Linick, the Federal Housing Finance Agency Inspector General, stated: “The government created programs intended to assist homeowners by allowing them to remain in their homes during these troubling financial times. Anyone attempting to engage in schemes designed to exploit struggling homeowners and the government programs created to help those same homeowners will ultimately be brought to justice.”

All 11 defendants are charged with nine felony counts—five counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy. Each count in the indictment carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment.

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

This prosecution is part of efforts by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 United States Attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants, including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit http://www.stopfraud.gov.”;

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Andrea Mims and Lea Ann Battles Convicted on Mail Fraud Arising From A Scheme to Defraud the Unemployment Insurance Program

September 7, 2011

U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas on September 7, 2011 released the following:

“Cuervo Women Plead Guilty in Unemployment Insurance Fraud Ring

VICTORIA, Texas – Andrea Mims, 48, and Lea Ann Battles, 44, both of Cuero, Texas, have been convicted of mail fraud arising from a scheme to defraud the Unemployment Insurance Program, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

At a hearing before Senior United States District Judge John D. Rainey, Mims and Battles admitted to filing numerous fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. All of the claims named fictitious employers and were filed using the names and Social Security numbers of other individuals. As a result of these fraudulent claims, debit cards were sent through the United States Mail to addresses controlled by Mims and Battles. Between October 2009 and June 2011, approximately $96,222 in unemployment insurance benefits were paid to Mims and Battles as a result of the fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. Additional fraudulent claims filed by Mims in her own name resulted in another $14,178 in fraudulent unemployment insurance benefit payments to Mims.

Mims’ husband, Frederick Mims, pleaded guilty to mail fraud in a related unemployment insurance fraud scheme on Aug. 1, 2011, and is in custody awaiting sentencing.

Both Andrea Mims and Battles face up to 20 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release at their sentencing hearing, set for Dec. 5, 2011. As part of their plea agreements both will be required to pay full restitution.

Andrea Mims and Battles will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending their sentencing hearings.

The case was investigated by agents from the United States Department of Labor, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Texas Workforce Commission. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert D. Thorpe Jr. “

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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