FBI: “Five Charged with Fraud in Wilkes-Barre City Employees Federal Credit Union Investigation”

August 25, 2014

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 21, 2014 released the following:

“The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a Grand Jury in Scranton returned indictments Tuesday charging five members of the Wilkes-Barre City Employees Federal Credit Union with conspiracy and bank fraud. The indictments were sealed pending the arrests and/or voluntary surrender of the defendants today.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Tino Ninotti, age 35, Jason Anthony, age 34, Leo Glodzik, age 43, Amanda Magda, age 30, and Jeffrey Serafin, age 35, were charged in three separate indictments related to activities of the credit union. Glodzik is also charged with tampering with a witness. Magda was the assistant manager at the Credit Union; Jason Anthony is a Wilkes-Barre City Police Officer; Ninotti is a former Wilkes-Barre City Police officer; Glodzik is a contractor whose company had a towing contract with the City of Wilkes-Barre.

Four of the defendants appeared today before Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick in federal court in Wilkes-Barre. Ninotti, Anthony and Glodzik were released from custody and ordered to report to pretrial services. Glodzik was ordered to surrender his passport. Serafin was released on his own recognizance. The hearing for Magda is expected to take place later today.

The indictments, unsealed today, allege that the defendants, during 2014, individually or by aiding and abetting one another, secured loans from the Credit Union by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, including the use of false collateral, the stolen identities of others who were not aware of loans in their names, and forgery. Magda and Anthony are charged in one indictment; Ninotti, Glodzik and Magda in a second indictment; and Serafin alone in the third indictment.

If convicted, the defendants face up to 30 years in prison and fines in the amount of $1,000,000.

According to the U.S. Attorney the charges are a significant step in an ongoing corruption investigation by the FBI. The case represents the pursuit of allegations against individuals; the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office value the close working relationships they have with local police departments, including Wilkes-Barre’s, and with honest police officers. These relationships will continue.

The prosecution is the result of a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) which plays an integral role in investigations of fraud and public corruption. Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski.

Luzerne County citizens, as well as employees and officials of local government are urged to come forward and provide relevant information about this case and others involving corruption in local government by contacting the Scranton FBI Office at 570-344-2404.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.”

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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

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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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.


Klary Arcentales Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury For Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and Bank Fraud in an Alleged $2 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme

May 16, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 15, 2013 released the following:

“Bergen County Woman Indicted in $2 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme

NEWARK, NJ— A Bergen County, New Jersey woman was indicted today for her role in a long-running, large-scale mortgage fraud scheme that caused millions of dollars in losses, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Klary Arcentales, 44, of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, was charged in a five-count indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and four counts of bank fraud, all of which caused losses of at least $2 million.

According to the indictment and other documents filed in this case:

As early as 2006, Arcentales engaged in a mortgage fraud conspiracy through a company called Premier Mortgage Services (PMS). Arcentales, a loan officer at PMS, provided fraudulent documents to financial institutions in connection with mortgage loan applications on behalf of “straw buyers” to induce those financial institutions to fund mortgage loans. Relying upon those false documents, financial institutions funded mortgage loans. Arcentales then profited illegally by receiving a commission from PMS for each mortgage loan that she closed and also profited illegally by diverting portions of the fraudulently obtained mortgage proceeds for herself.

Conspirator Lester Soto, 56, previously charged by complaint, was a part-owner of PMS. He also acted as a loan officer on certain PMS mortgage loan applications. Soto took a percentage of PMS’s profits. Soto employed document makers to create fraudulent documents in furtherance of the scheme and put loan officers at PMS, including Arcentales, in contact with these document makers to create other false and fraudulent documents.

Conspirator Linda Cohen, 55, previously charged by Complaint, was a paralegal who closed transactions on behalf of a licensed New Jersey attorney. Cohen served as the settlement agent on mortgage loans brokered by Arcentales for various properties. Cohen convened closings, received funds from lenders, and prepared HUD-1 forms—which itemize services and fees charged to borrowers for mortgage loans—that purported to reflect the sources and destinations of funds for mortgages on subject properties. In fact, the HUD-1s were neither true nor accurate. At or following the closings, Cohen disbursed mortgage loan proceeds directly to PMS, herself, and others, including in amounts not reflected on the HUD-1s. Cohen received a fee for each fraudulent loan in which she participated.

Conspirator Antonio Pimenta, 45, previously charged by complaint, owned and managed Kelmar Construction Co., which built properties that were then sold to straw buyers utilizing fraudulent mortgage loans brokered by Arcentales.

The indictment charges Arcentales with one count of bank fraud conspiracy and four counts of bank fraud, each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, for the investigation leading to today’s charges. Fishman also thanked the Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Edward Ryan, for its participation in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rahul Agarwal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office General Crimes Unit and Zach Intrater of the Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’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 is 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. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit http://www.stopfraud.gov.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment and complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

Federal Bank Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. 1344

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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.


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.


Former Raleigh Real Estate Entrepreneur James T. Webb Arrested on 50-Count Indictment Alleging Several Federal Crimes

September 15, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 14, 2012 released the following:

“RALEIGH— The United States Attorney’s Office announced that the indictment of JAMES THOMAS WEBB, 51, was unsealed today in federal court. WEBB has been charged in a 50-count indictment which includes conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349; 10 counts of bank fraud and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1344 and 2; three counts of wire fraud and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343 and 2; and 36 counts of making false statements to influence banks on loans and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1014 and 2. WEBB was arrested by federal agents on September 13, 2012 in Miami, Florida.

The Indictment charges that between 2002 and 2006, WEBB operated various real estate companies, including Alpine Properties, LLC and Webb Builders, LLC for a profit. WEBB promised investors in multiple states quick, large, and safe financial gains by investing money with him. WEBB promised investors that he would use their money to purchase, renovate, and resell properties to first-time home buyers in various states, including North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. WEBB caused investors to take out loans on properties that he and his companies had allegedly renovated.

The indictment further alleges that despite alleged philanthropic and humanitarian objectives, that WEBB carried out a fraud upon both the investors who gave cash to WEBB, and the banks and lenders who WEBB caused to disburse loan proceeds. According to the indictment, WEBB conspired with former attorney, Amy Robinson, to falsify closing statements associated with the loan transactions. It is alleged that the closing statements falsified various facts, including the amount of money paid to WEBB on the transactions. WEBB is also alleged to have conspired with a former appraiser, Larry Max McDaniel, and his associate, Jackie Gale Weaver, to falsify appraisal reports that were given to banks and lenders in connection with investor loans. The appraisal reports are alleged to have falsely stated that McDaniel had physically viewed the properties, when in fact he had not. The indictment also alleges that the properties sold to investors and financed by banks were not always completed or in the condition represented in the appraisal reports.

During the course of the alleged scheme, the indictment charges that WEBB lived lavishly, residing in a multi-million-dollar mansion, driving expensive vehicles, including a Bentley, traveling extensively, and otherwise paying himself handsomely. WEBB is alleged to have abruptly left North Carolina for Florida in 2004, where he continued to market his services under new company names.

According to the indictment, based upon WEBB’s statements and representations to investors, various individuals collectively invested millions of dollars with WEBB and his companies. Additionally, banks and lenders are alleged to have disbursed millions of dollars in loans, leaving investors holding millions in debt. The indictment alleges that WEBB left various neighborhoods in North Carolina and Virginia blighted with boarded up and dilapidated homes, many of which were ultimately demolished as uninhabitable.

Larry Max McDaniel, 69, pleaded guilty in federal court on June 11, 2012 to making false statements to federally insured financial institutions, and aiding and abetting. Jackie Gale Weaver pleaded guilty in federal court on September 21, 2011 to conspiracy to make false statements to federally insured financial institutions. Amy Robinson, 35, pleaded guilty in federal court on May 3, 2010 to conspiracy to commit mail, wire, and bank fraud.

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

Investigation of this case is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of the Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney William M. Gilmore is prosecuting the case.”

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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.


FBI’s ‘Sabu’ Hacker Was a Model Informant

March 9, 2012

The Wall Street Journal on March 8, 2012 released the following:

“By CHAD BRAY

As soon as he was caught, an influential computer hacker agreed to become a government informant and “literally worked around the clock” to help federal agents nab an elusive collective of alleged cyber criminals who have launched online attacks against companies, governments and individuals.

The new details, revealed in court documents made public on Thursday, show how quickly investigators were able to turn 28-year-old Hector Xavier Monsegur against his fellow alleged hackers.

Known as “Sabu” in hacking circles, he was placed under supervision by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents shortly after he was arrested at 10:15 p.m. on June 7 last year. His file was sealed by a judge.

“Since literally the day he was arrested, the defendant has been cooperating with the government proactively,” sometimes staying up all night engaging in conversations with co-conspirators to help the government build cases against them, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Pastore said at a secret bail hearing on Aug. 5, 2011, according to a transcript released on Thursday.

The investigation led to the unveiling of criminal charges on Tuesday against a group of men allegedly behind Lulz Security, or LulzSec. The group, formed last May, claimed responsibility for a series of brazen online attacks including hacking computer servers of television network PBS in retaliation for a “Frontline” episode about WikiLeaks, and stealing personal information from about 100,000 customers of hacked Sony Pictures.

In addition to the Sony and PBS attacks, LulzSec has claimed responsibility for attacks on the U.S. Senate and InfraGard, an affiliate of the Atlanta chapter of the FBI. Those attacks were all cited in Tuesday’s charging documents.

Mr. Monsegur, a few days after his bail hearing in August, pleaded guilty to 12 criminal charges, including three counts of conspiracy to engage in computer hacking, computer hacking in furtherance of fraud, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. He faces up to 124 years in prison. A lawyer for Mr. Monsegur declined to comment Thursday.

On Aug. 10, 2011, a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles who was working on the case asked that details for charges against Mr. Monsegur in Los Angeles remain secret. In a document, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie S. Christensen said other hackers were aware of Mr. Monsegur’s true identity, even though he often used a nickname or online personality while communicating with them. She said if news of his arrest were made public, he might be identified as a cooperator. She noted that the hackers monitored public court dockets.

“The FBI has informed me that the hackers are known to take steps against those who cooperate with the government,” Ms. Christensen said. She pointed to a practice known as “Doxing” where hackers post personal details about a person for public consumption online. “The publicly available information may then be used to harass the cooperator and the cooperator’s family in a variety of ways,” she said. “This obviously creates danger for the cooperator, the cooperator’s family, and law enforcement.”

Prosecutors, who said Mr. Monsegur was kept under close surveillance during the investigation—with software installed on his computer to track his online activity and video surveillance set up in his home—also said that Mr. Monsegur agreed to cooperate at “a significant amount of personal risk” to himself. Mr. Monsegur, who was unemployed at the time, is a foster parent to two nieces.

Some hackers retaliate against cooperators by ordering hundreds of pizzas to their house or calling in hostage situations and having a SWAT team show up, Mr. Pastore said.

During the investigation, Mr. Monsegur, who lived in and worked from a public-housing project in New York City, received information on a day-to-day basis of “upwards of two dozen vulnerabilities” in computer systems from a network of cybercriminals, Mr. Pastore said in court documents released Thursday. The FBI was able to identify more than 150 security vulnerabilities at the time, allowing companies to prevent a hack before it occurred or mitigate harm from prior hacking activity, he said.

Ultimately, federal agents were able to thwart more than 300 attacks that other hackers were planning as a result of information provided by Mr. Monsegur, according to a person familiar with the matter.

LulzSec is one of several shadowy hacker groups that have sprung to global prominence over the past year and are loosely organized, often with no central leadership. Mr. Monsegur is described in charging documents as an “influential” member of three such hacking organizations—LulzSec and two others known as Anonymous and Internet Feds. Charges against a total of six men were announced on Tuesday, after which Mr. Monsegur’s identity was revealed.”

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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

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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 and/or report 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.


David Foley Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud, Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud

January 9, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 9, 2012 released the following:

“Former Chief Technology Officer of San Jose Video Arcade Gaming Software Company Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud, Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud

Manufactured and Sold Counterfeit Global VR Game Packs, Submitted False Information in Mortgage Applications To Secure More Than $3 Million in Loans From Countrywide Home Loans

SAN JOSE, CA—The former chief technology officer of Santa Clara, Calif., video game developer Global VR, and the former owner of NexTune Corporation, d/b/a UltraCade Technologies, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag announced. The charges were contained in separate indictments but consolidated for the guilty pleas.

David Foley, 46, of Los Gatos, Calif., admitted that, as charged in the first indictment, he manufactured thumb drives, known as “game packs,” containing video gaming software that could be loaded onto arcade video game machines made for the home market. Foley illegally produced the products from his home while working as the chief technology officer of Global VR, which had previously acquired all rights to produce and sell games under the UltraCade name. After producing the game packs, Foley sold the products to a co-defendant located in Milford, Conn., and agreed to sell the game packs to the public using packaging and advertisements that falsely represented the goods to have been genuinely manufactured by UltraCade. Foley thereafter received payment for the illegally manufactured game packs by mail and wire.

Foley further admitted that, as charged in the second indictment, he defrauded Countrywide Home Loans (now owned and operated by Bank of America) of mortgage and home equity line of credit loans in the amounts of $2,624,475 and $374,925. He did this by falsely claiming that he was still employed at Global VR. Foley had been fired from his job by the time the loan applications were submitted. Foley admitted that he instructed a co-defendant to contact Countrywide Home Loans to falsely confirm his continued employment, after his employment had been terminated and prior to receiving the funds.

United States District Court Judge Edward J. Davila allowed Foley’s continued release on a $100,000 bond and ordered him to return to court on April 30, 2011, at 9 a.m. for sentencing.

The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to commit mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349 is 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, a mandatory special assessment and restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to commit bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1349 is 30 years in prison, a mandatory special assessment, and a fine of $1 million and restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard C. Cheng of the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit is prosecuting the case with the assistance of legal assistant Tracey Andersen. The prosecution is the result of a lengthy investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Further Information:

Case #s: CR-09 00670-EJD and CR-11 00554-EJD”

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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

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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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 and/or report 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.


Six Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in Alleged Internet Scam Involving Bogus Online Vehicles Sales

December 30, 2011

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on December 29, 2011 released the following:

“6 indicted in $4 million Internet scam involving bogus online vehicles sales Fraud scheme used well known websites that offered vehicles for sale

LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury has indicted six foreign nationals on charges related to an Internet sales scheme that allegedly defrauded Americans who attempted to purchase automobiles and other vehicles on the Internet through websites that included eBay Motors, Auto Trader, Yahoo Auto, Edmunds.com and Craigslist.

The 24-count indictment, which was returned Wednesday afternoon, alleges a scheme in which vehicles were offered for sale on various legitimate websites. Money was subsequently collected from victims across the United States and supposedly put into escrow accounts with PayPal and eBay Motors. The money was then siphoned from the accounts, with millions of dollars being sent to Europe. Not one vehicle was delivered to the hundreds of victims who lost more than $4 million during the 3 1/2 years the scheme operated, according to the indictment.

The charges are the result of a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Secret Service. Several other state and local law enforcement agencies provided substantial assistance during the investigation, including the Costa Mesa Police Department.

The indictment alleges conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, nine counts of wire fraud, eight counts of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of money laundering. Additionally, the indictment seeks the forfeiture of property and money illegally obtained through the scheme, including more than $4.2 million in U.S. currency. If they are convicted of the charges in the indictment, the defendants would each face sentences that could total hundreds of years in federal prison.

Those charged in the indictment are:

  • Corneliu Stefan Weikum, 37, a Romanian national who resides in Berlin and is currently in federal custody in Nevada;
  • Yulia Mishina-Heffron, 23, a native of Yekaterinburg, Russia, who is in federal custody in Nevada;
  • Sergej Bugaev, 38, a Russian national and resident of Berlin, who is currently in state custody in Orange County;
  • Alexander Brem, 34, a native of Kazakhstan who resides in Berlin;
  • Marina Talashkova, 24, of Yekaterinburg, Russia; and
  • Rihards Avotins, 21, a Latvian resident.

“As more people use the Internet to conduct everyday transactions, we are increasing our efforts to protect consumers from fraud artists committed to taking hard-earned money from consumers who are increasingly comfortable doing business in cyberspace,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “This case demonstrates our ability to track down even the most sophisticated fraud artist who attempted to hide behind false identities and the perceived anonymity of the Internet.”

The indictment alleges a scheme in which members of the conspiracy offered vehicles – including automobiles, motorcycles, motor homes and boats – for sale on various websites. After the purchase price was negotiated through telephone and email communications, co-conspirators emailed fraudulent invoices to the purchasers. The fake invoices appeared to be from eBay, Edmunds.com, PayPal, and Google Checkout, and the documents often bore the names and logos of these legitimate companies. The victims were instructed to wire the agreed-upon purchase price into bank accounts they thought were related to the escrow companies, but had in fact been set up by members of the conspiracy who often used false identification to open the accounts. The fraudulent invoices falsely represented that the funds would not be released to the purported sellers until the purchasers had received and approved the purchased vehicles, and victims were further told that they had the option of returning the vehicles at the seller’s expense within a week of receiving and inspecting the vehicle.

Despite receiving the purchaser’s funds for the vehicles, the indictment alleges, the defendants did not provide any vehicles to the victims.

“Unfortunately, countless consumers fall prey to sophisticated Internet fraud schemes like this every year and most of them will never get their money back,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles. “While Homeland Security Investigations will continue to work closely with its enforcement partners here and overseas to aggressively target this type of crime, Internet shoppers must also take steps to protect themselves. Before buying anything online, shoppers should check to be sure their money is going to a legitimate account and always remember, if the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

According to the indictment, Weikum monitored the fraudulent bank accounts to determine if victims had deposited the funds. Once money was sent to the fraudulent bank accounts, the money was withdrawn – primarily in cash – and the money was delivered to Weikum and Mishina. Weikum and Mishina allegedly wired the money from the United States to other countries, mailed the funds in concealed packages to Berlin, or concealed the funds in personal carry-on luggage while traveling to Germany.

At least 110 bank accounts were opened to fraudulently receive proceeds derived from the Internet sales scam, according to the indictment. From Sept.4, 2007 until Oct. 5, 2010, victims deposited at least $4 million into the fraudulent bank accounts.

“The defendants conducted a scheme intending to defraud the everyday Internet shopper,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Leslie P. DeMarco. “The IRS will continue to use its resources to trace money received from fraudulent Internet schemes. Internet consumer safety is a concern of the IRS and we will do our part to combat this modern-day fraud.”

Joseph Beaty, special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service Los Angeles Field Office, stated, “Cybercrime, including this kind of Internet sales scheme, has evolved significantly over the last several years. Cooperation between law enforcement allows us to focus our resources and respond quickly to uncover and prevent criminal activity such as this type of financial fraud.”

The fraud charges alleged in the indictment each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. The money laundering charges alleged in the indictment each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Weikum and Mishina are in custody after being charged last year in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Nev. Weikum and Mishina were previously indicted on charges related to bulk cash smuggling, structuring cash transactions and false identification documents. The Nevada indictment alleges, among other things, that Weikum attempted to conceal $1.1 million in U.S. currency in his luggage as he traveled to Germany in October 2009. Weikum and Mishina are scheduled to stand trial in the Nevada case Jan. 24.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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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 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.