Buy A Car And Get Auto Insurance Quotes: Found Reliable And How Not to Be Scammed

How to buy a new or used car, and how to do an Auto Insurance Quotes Online without being cheated. Unfortunately, there are many internet companies that manage to fool customers, but also some websites that are false sales. This will guide you what to check before you buy a car, and how to make an auto insurance quotes online.

Get No-Hassle Auto Insurance Quotes Online

If you want to get the best coverage for the lowest rates, it pays to shop around and get auto insurance quotes!

The quickest and easiest way to browse for the best priced policy is to go online for quotes. Many websites offer you the capability of comparing prices and features from multiple top companies in order to find the cheapest rates.

In fact, many government websites suggest that you compare quotes to find cheaper rates, because each insurer offers unique rates and different benefits. By comparing companies, you can choose the policy best suited to your needs at the lowest price.

When you comparison shop online for auto insurance, you are able to instantly see the prices and benefits of various companies side-by-side.

  • Before beginning your comparison shopping for online auto insurance quotes, here are some things to have handy:
    Driver’s name
    Driver’s age and birth date
    Vehicle’s VIN
    Current mileage and estimated annual mileage of vehicle
    Vehicle’s year, make, and model
    Location where vehicle is stored at night/address of owner

Some auto insurance companies ask for your Social Security number and/or Drivers License number. However, many reputable companies do not require this information for a quote, believing that if you provide truthful information for the information noted above, you will receive an accurate quote.

Not being asked to provide sensitive, personal data helps to lessen the risk of identity theft. So, whenever possible, obtain your online car insurance quotes from a company who doesn’t ask you for that information.


There are 5 things to look for when shopping online for auto insurance and comparing quotes:

  1. One of the most important factors for most people is price. Side-by-side comparison shopping is a good way to see at a glance which companies are affordable, thus narrowing your choices.
  2. Check out the financial stability and A. M. Best rating of an insurer. Ratings range from A+ or A++ all the way down to C. Obviously, the higher the rating, the better and more stable the company.
  3. To find out the quality of an insurer’s customer service, pick up the phone and call the customer service number. This will give you an idea of what kind of customer service to expect as a policyholder.
  4. Check with the BBB Online or similar service to see if the insurer has had excessive complaints filed by consumers.
  5. Licensing is important. Carriers admitted in the state in which they’re soliciting insurance offer a much higher degree of protection to policyholders. In the event that an insurer becomes unable to pay out claims, a fund kicks in as a back up source.

Shopping online for auto insurance is the fastest, most timesaving and economical method of getting the coverage you need. You can also get a lot of valuable information about auto insurance online. If there are things you want to know about various aspects of car insurance, many online carriers have comprehensive details that will answer almost any question you might have.

Once you have compared auto insurance quotes and selected a company, you simply purchase your auto insurance on the spot… print your receipt… and you’re covered! It’s that easy!

Scams To Check For When Purchasing Car on Craigslist

If you’re looking to purchase your next vehicle online, watch out for scammers. Craigslist.org is an extremely useful site, but the platform sometimes sees the seedy underbelly of the Internet rear its ugly head. And you could be out some serious money. Many people have been taken advantage of due to e-commerce, and we want you to buy a car online safely. Trust your intuition, do your homework, and watch out for these seven common scams.

The eBay Transaction Services Scam

EBay Transaction Services does not exist. The ads on Craigslist look legitimate, and are usually fairly priced older vehicles. The “seller” often tells the person they’re about to scam that they’d like to insure the car’s purchase through this fictional service. Word to the wise? Don’t wire anyone money if you haven’t seen the product.

The Classic Car Scam

One of the most common ways to scam people is through the promise of a “classic” car. If you respond to an ad for one of these beauties, watch out for an email from the seller explaining an overseas move. The “seller” (read: scammer) will insist on an escrow service, and you’ll be out the purchase money with no car to show for it. Refuse to close any transactions before putting your eye on the vehicle.

The $3,600 Honda Scam

This scam was busted wide open, and is similar to the eBay Transaction Services Scam. The “seller” wanted the buyer to purchase a car off of Craigslist through the eBay Vehicle Purchase Program. Although the name sounds legitimate, the “seller” attempted to pressure the “buyer” (a known scam-buster) into a quick purchase. If someone is inciting you to immediate action and continually asks for your payment details and personal information, there’s probably something amiss.

The Non-Existent Car Scam

One scam-buster found an advertisement with vague pictures of a non-existent Honda Accord. The list price was fair, but there were some suspicious looking elements to the ad. Don’t get scammed because you don’t do your research; if an ad looks sketchy, it probably is.

The Lemon Scam

Even if you buy a car from a legitimate seller, make sure that you run a vehicle history report. One man bought a Ford Ranger for $4,500, and thought he had received a great deal. On the drive home from the purchase, a service light came on. Just miles later, the buyer’s new car completely broke down. He received no help from the seller (“All sales are final”), and had to spend thousands on repairs.

The Fake Check Scam

Sometimes the buyers bite back, and come up with scams of their own. In a common Craiglist scam, buyers will send a legitimate-looking check or money order for an amount higher than the selling price. Once they “realize” their mistake, they’ll ask to be sent or wired the extra money. During this time, they will also arrange to have the car picked up, but they’ll never do it in person. Your car and your money can be gone in a flash. Sellers! Watch out for these bogus buyers.

The No-Test-Drive Scam

If you’re buying a car on Craigslist, make sure that you can put your eyes on it before you hand over your dough. And better than that, make sure to take your future car for a test drive. Many people have been scammed by buying bogus cars with faulty titles and vehicle histories, and you don’t want to be among the bunch. Better safe than sorry, as you don’t want to end up a cautionary tale.



Mortgage Fraud: Learn The Scheme Used by Scammers

Mortgage fraud has turned out to be more pervasive after some time and is a specific worry amid a financial subsidence. Change in lodging markets, property holders confronting abandonment and deceitful people searching for income sans work all add to an atmosphere in which mortgage fraud may happen.

The FBI characterizes mortgage fraud as “any material misquote, deception or exclusion depended on upon by a financier or bank to reserve, buy or safeguard a credit.” By that definition, such fraud can obviously be conferred by both loan specialists and candidates, despite the fact that the last may not think their distortions or oversights are sufficiently critical to be a worry.

Mortgage fraud is a wide term that can allude to numerous exercises:

  • Blowing up an examination with a specific end goal to acquire a mortgage for more than a property is worth
  • Asserting wage or resources the borrower does not have.
  • Acting like a borrower in the interest of another who’s really making the buy.
  • Putting on a show to give money related help to a financially focused on property holder keeping in mind the end goal to skim off value from the home.

Mortgage credit frauds can be started by buyers themselves or corrupt loan specialists, representatives, land operators or somebody looking for some help. People hoping to buy a home or property holders trying to renegotiate can be coincidentally made up for lost time in mortgage fraud by following up on awful counsel from a corrupt mortgage loan specialist or land proficient they trust.

There are truly two unique sorts of mortgage fraud. Customary mortgage frauds include exercises embraced with an end goal to defraud the bank, for example, attempting to get an advance one can’t honest to goodness fit the bill for. Other mortgage frauds target shoppers, for example, dispossession aversion or advance alteration scams in which deceitful people attempt to defraud property holders who are stuck in an unfortunate situation.

Mortgage fraud is destructive to moneylenders, who face higher dangers of default when borrowers distort their budgetary data. Far more terrible, crooks may utilize mortgage credit frauds to take from loan specialists by controlling the mortgage and land exchange process. It can likewise be hurtful to neighborhoods and groups by creating more abandoned and exhaust properties, rather than homes involved by mindful proprietors.

Mortgage fraud can likewise be hurtful to borrowers, especially the abandonment salvage scams that go after powerless property holders. Such scams can wind up with the mortgage holder in far and away more terrible money related shape than before and conceivably even cost them the home itself. Different scams look to exploit simple financial specialists or skim cash out of an apparently typical land exchange without the borrower’s information.

While mortgage fraud is more common than in earlier years, it is additionally arraigned on a more normal premise by the FBI and other national, state and nearby law implementation offices. Six-figure fines and long correctional facility times are not extraordinary and government laws ordered with the breakdown of the land market in 2007-09 have made such punishments much harsher.

Because a moneylender shows they have critical involvement in the mortgage business doesn’t imply that they are reliable. There have been various stories throughout the years of mortgage loan specialists directing Ponzi plans or other fraudulent exercises.

Furthermore, the direction of mortgage banks is customarily more remiss than that of other money related administration suppliers, for example, riches and portfolio administrators and Confirmed Budgetary Organizers. The primary concern is that it is imperative for mortgage seekers to finish their homework in inquiring about moneylenders since some “mortgage intermediaries” might not have a borrower’s best aims as a primary concern.

Keep in mind, mortgage fraud is a prosecutable wrongdoing and a crime under a different government and state laws. In the event that a borrower feels that they are being requested that overstep the law, they ought to, in any event, converse with a legitimate land legal counselor or the authorizing power in that home state before settling on a choice.

Understanding Mortgage Fraud and rundown of normal frauds

Conjurers win commendation by performing card traps or hauling rabbits out of their caps. Any individual who tries to pull a quick one with a mortgage, be that as it may, acquires jail time. Here is a few case of mortgage fraud that happens each day.

Mortgages are the biggest venture a great many people will ever make. With every one of those dollar signs comes a lot of allurement for the criminal component. There are innumerable mortgage frauds available. Here are some normal sorts executed both on and by property holders:

Not really an exact salary. In view of the way independently employed individuals document charges, numerous people neglect to report their full salary on their duties. An “expressed pay” advance permits a potential borrower to assert a specific sum, and a financier constructs a loaning choice with respect to that expressed pay. On the off chance that a borrower blows up that figure, it constitutes mortgage fraud.

Under-the-table trade. Banks are hesitant to loan cash to individuals who can’t demonstrate that they have the monetary intends to make standard advance installments. A heavy initial installment, be that as it may, can influence numerous a bank’s conclusion. In the event that a vendor truly needs to dump a property, he can give the borrower enough cash for an upfront installment under the table. With the cash close by, the purchaser can wrongfully “qualify” for the credit.

Proprietor inhabitant declining to involve. Since loan specialists tend to charge higher financing costs to non-proprietor inhabitants, a typical mortgage fraud strategy is to claim inhabitance regardless of the possibility that you don’t live on the premises. In the event that you plan to purchase property and case inhabitance, gather your sacks and move in. Else, you’ll be submitting mortgage fraud.

Gifting an upfront installment, and afterward reimbursing it. You’re permitted to blessing part of an upfront installment for a home on the condition that the blessing is not reimbursed. It’s much similar to the under-the-table trade between a dealer and a potential purchaser, however in converse. This “blessing” is given authoritatively, however then reimbursed under-the-table.

Scams from the pros

Now and again, you may succumb to a scam executed by a mortgage proficient. These have a tendency to be more confounded and are hard to identify. It’s much simpler for a person to choose a reliable representative in advance than to get a mortgage rascal in the demonstration.

While picking a mortgage agent or advance officer, ensure that they’re supported by a long-standing loaning establishment and can furnish you with strong referrals. Keep your eyes open for arrangements that sound pipe dream, since they typically are.

You may likewise choose to pay for the administrations of a lawyer to survey all your advance reports before shutting. A legal counselor can give conclusive replies, and will dependably deal for your sake.

Mortgage fraud is a dubious point, particularly in light of the fact that mortgage credits have a tendency to confound. As the lodging market gets more tightly, and purchasers and dealers turn out to be edgier, you can anticipate that mortgage fraud will rise. Furnished with the right data, you’ll have the learning to keep them under control.


Phishing, Fraudulent, and Malicious Websites

Whether we like it or not, we are all living in the Information Age. We have nothing left but adapt to rapidly developing information technology, no matter who we are and what we do for living.

The Internet, in particular, means for us boundless opportunities in life and business – but also lots of dangers unheard of just a decade ago. We should be aware of these dangers if we want to use the huge potential of the Internet and to avoid the hazards it brings us.

Warning: There are Websites You’d Better Not Visit

Phishing websites

Thanks to authors of numerous articles on this topic, “classic” phishing technique is relatively well known. This scam involves setting bogus websites and luring people to visit them, as a rule, by links in emails. Phishing website is disguised to look like a legitimate one — of a bank or a credit card company, and users are invited to provide their identifying information. Sites of this kind are used solely to steal users’ passwords, PIN numbers, SSNs and other confidential information.

At first phishing consisted only of a social engineering scam in which phishers spammed consumer e-mail accounts with letters ostensibly from banks. The more people got aware of the scam, the less spelling mistakes these messages contained, and the more these fraudulent websites resembled legitimate ones. Phishers are getting smarter. They eagerly learn; there is enough money involved here to turn criminals into earnest students.

Keyloggers and Trojans

Since about November 2004 there has been a lot of publications of a scheme which at first was seen as a new kind of phishing. This technique includes contaminating a PC with a Trojan horse program. The problem is that this Trojan contains a keylogger which lurks at the background until the user of the infected PC visits one of the specified websites. Then the keylogger comes to life to do what it was created for — to steal information.

It seems that this technique is actually a separate scam aimed at stealing personal information and such attacks are on the rise. Security vendor Symantec warns about commercialisation of malware — cyber-criminals prefer cash to fun, so various kinds of information-stealing software are used more actively.

Fraudulent websites are on the rise

Websense Security Labs — a well-known authority in information security — noticed a dramatic rise in the number of fraudulent websites as far back as in the second half of 2004. These sites pose as ones for e-commerce; they encourage users to apply for a reward or purchase something, of course never delivering the product or paying money. The most popular areas for such fraud are online pharmacies, lottery scams, and loan / mortgage sites. Experts predict there will be more fake merchants in future and their scams will become more sophisticated.

A Hybrid Scam

In April Panda Software warned Internet users of a new particularly brazen scam aimed at stealing confidential information. The technique used here looks like a hybrid between phishing and a fraudulent website.

Panda Software identified several websites offering cheap airline tickets which in fact weren’t selling anything; the aim was to cheat users out of credit card details.

This scam is very simple; the thieves simply wait until some unsuspecting user who is searching for, say, airline ticket offers, finds their site offering dirt-cheap airline tickets. Really pleased with himself and looking forward to the trip, the user fills in the form, entering his credit card number, expiry date and verification value (CVV).

As soon as these details have been entered, an error page appears; it tells the user that the transaction has been unsuccessful, and offers instructions on how to pay for the ticket by postal money order. So the user may well be fooled twice. He loses his credit card details, putting them right into the hands of cyber-crooks, and then loses money, if decides to buy the ticket by money order.

Of course, these sites have already been disabled, but who knows whether (or better to say when) other ones will appear again, this time offering all kinds of products.

Malicious websites are especially dangerous. Cyber-criminals create them exclusively to execute malicious code on the visitors’ computers. Sometimes hackers infect legitimate sites with malicious code.

Bad news for blog readers: blogs can be contaminated, too. Since January, Websense Security Labs has discovered hundreds of these “toxic” blogs set by hackers.

When unsuspecting users visit malicious sites, various nasty applications are downloaded and executed on their computers. Unfortunately, more and more often these applications contain keyloggers–software programs for intercepting data.

Keyloggers, as it is clear from the name of the program, log keystrokes –but that’s not all. They capture everything the user is doing — keystrokes, mouse clicks, files opened and closed, sites visited. A little more sophisticated programs of this kind also capture text from windows and make screenshots (record everything displayed on the screen) – so the information is captured even if the user doesn’t type anything, just opens the views the file.

In February and March 2005, Websense Security Labs researched and identified about 8-10 new keylogger variants and more than 100 malicious websites which are hosting these keyloggers EACH WEEK. From November of 2004 through December 2004 these figures were much smaller: 1-2 new keylogger variants and 10-15 new malicious websites per week. There is by all means a disturbing tendency–the number of brand-new keyloggers and malicious website is growing, and growing rapidly.

What a user can do to avoid these sites?

As for phishing, the best advice is not to click any links in any email, especially if it claims to be from a bank.
Opening an attachment of a spam message can also trigger the execution of malicious program, for example a keylogger or a keylogger-containing Trojan horse.

As for fraudulent websites, maybe buying goods only from trusted vendors will help — even if it is a bit more expensive.

As for malicious websites… “Malicious websites that host adult entertainment and shopping content can exploit Internet Explorer vulnerabilities to run code remotely without user interaction.”(a quote from the Websense’s report). What can a user do about it? Not much, but avoiding adult sites and buying only from known and trusted online stores will reduce the risk.

Hackers also attract traffic to malicious websites by sending a link through spam or spim (the analog of spam for instant messaging (IM). So a good advice never follow links in spam is worth remembering once more.


How Can You Spot Mortgage Fraud

Each mortgage scam contains some type of misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission relied upon by an underwriter or lender to fund, purchase or insure a loan. Mortgage scam is easily practiced particularly where mortgage industry professionals are involved. The true level of mortgage scam is largely unknown because a significant portion of the mortgage industry is void of any mandatory fraud reporting and in addition, mortgage fraud in the secondary market is often under reported. Based on various industry reports and analysis, mortgage scam is pervasive and growing. Mortgage scam can be basically analyzed as:

  • Fraud for Profit – Sometimes referred as “Industry Insider Fraud” and the motive is to falsely inflate the value of the property, issue loans based on fictitious properties or revolve equity. Based on existing approximate reports, eighty percent of all reported mortgage scam losses involve collaboration or collusion by industry insiders
  •  Fraud for Housing – An illegal action perpetrated solely by the borrower. This type of mortgage scam is done by a borrower who makes misrepresentations regarding his income or employment history to qualify for a large loan. The motive behind this scam is to acquire and maintain ownership of a house under false pretenses

Fraud for Housing can not be compared to the scam done by mortgage scam industry professionals which affect the borrowers. Predatory lending usually is targeted towards senior citizens, lower income and challenged credit borrowers. Mortgage lending representatives force borrowers to pay exhaustive loan settlement fees, sub-prime or higher interest rates, and in some cases, unreasonable service fees. The usual result is the borrower defaulting on his mortgage payment and undergoing foreclosure or forced refinancing. Our focus is to recognize the mortgage scam that could happen to us, the borrower.


False or Stolen Identity – A fake identity may be used on the loan application. The applicant may be involved in an identity theft scheme and use someones personal information without the true person’s knowledge.

Inflated Appraisals – An appraiser acts in collusion with a borrower and provides a misleading appraisal report to the lender. This report inaccurately states an inflated property value.

Silent Second Mortgage – Buyer of a property borrows the down payment from the seller through the issuance of a non-disclosed second mortgage. The primary lender believes the borrower has invested his own money in the down payment, when in fact, it is borrowed. The second mortgage may not be recorded to further conceal its status from the primary lender.

Nominee Loans – The identity of the borrower is concealed through the use of a nominee who allows the borrower to use the nominee’s name and credit history to apply for a loan.

Equity Skimming – An investor may use a nominee, false income documents, and false credit reports, to obtain a loan in the nominee’s name. Subsequent to closing, the nominee signs the property over to the investor in a quit claim deed which relinquishes all rights to the property and provides no guaranty to title. The investor does not make any mortgage payments and rents the property until foreclosure takes place a few months later.

Property Flipping – A property is bought, falsely advertised at a higher value, and then quickly sold. What makes this property illegal is that the appraisal information is fraudulent. The schemes typically involve one or more of the following; fraudulent appraisals, doctored loan documentation and inflated buyers income… Kickbacks to buyers, investors, property and loan brokers, appraisers, title company employees are common in this scheme. A home may be appraised for $100,000 but is actually worth $30,000.

Air Loans – This is a non-existent property loan where there is usually no collateral. A broker invents borrowers and properties, establishes accounts for payments, and maintains custodial accounts for escrows. They may even set up an office with a bank of telephones, each one used as the employer, appraiser, credit agency for verification purposes.

Foreclosure Schemes – Are one of the worst. The loan agents mislead the homeowners into believing that they can save their homes in exchange for a transfer of the deed, usually in the form of a Quit-Claim Deed, and up-front fees. The perpetrator profits from these schemes by re-mortgaging the property or pocketing fees paid by the homeowner without helping to prevent the foreclosure. The victim suffers the loss of the property as well as the up-front fees. Be aware of offers that promise to save homeowners who are at risk of defaulting on loans or whose houses are already in foreclosure. If you are near a foreclosure seek a qualified credit counselor or attorney to assist.

Mortgage Scam per e-Mail – Many of the emails imply that the recipient has already been approved for a loan by making a vague statement such as “we are accepting your mortgage application”. Recipients may believe that they are actually being offered a loan. These emails are basically just poorly implemented tricks to get recipients to click on the link provided and fill out a form which in turn will defraud you in one way or another. If enough information is provided, scammers might even be able to steal your identity. A lot of the sites will last only a few days before they are taken down. But new will arise as soon as they are suppressed. Often they consist of just one page containing a form.

There is no information about the company offering the service, no privacy policy or a legal document, and no contact options other than the form provided. Often, the form is not secure (https), which is a good indicator that the site is not legitimate. No credible company would expect potential clients to submit information via an unsecured form. Never deal with spammers, regardless of how attractive their offer may seem. If they are unscrupulous enough to send unsolicited email, or allow their affiliates to send unsolicited email, then they have immediately shown themselves to be untrustworthy and you should avoid them at all cost. In general try to avoid the use of online mortgage loans.


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.

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.



Description and Discovery of a Scam Email


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




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:


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.

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.

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.


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.

Financial Fraud: Group Of Five Persons Pleaded Guilty To Felony Charges In Connection With a Scheme To Fraudulently Sell Workout Supplements

Five Individuals and Two Companies Plead Guilty to Felony Charges in Multimillion Dollar Scheme to Fraudulently Sell Popular Dietary Supplements

Five individual defendants and two companies pleaded guilty in Dallas to felony charges in connection with a scheme to fraudulently sell workout supplements, the Department of Justice announced today.

All of the defendants played roles in developing, manufacturing, or marketing the popular workout and weight loss supplements known as Jack3d and OxyElite Pro, which were distributed by Dallas-based dietary supplement company USPlabs. Cyril Willson, 38, of Ralston, Nebraska, and Matthew Hebert, 40, of Dallas, pleaded guilty today to introducing misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud or mislead. Jonathan Doyle, 40, of Dallas, the president of USPlabs, pleaded guilty February 21 to conspiracy to introduce misbranded food into interstate commerce. Sitesh Patel, 35, of Irvine, California, the vice president of S.K. Laboratories, a California dietary supplement manufacturer, pleaded guilty on February 25 to conspiracy to introduce misbranded food into interstate commerce and to the introduction of misbranded food into interstate commerce. Jacobo Geissler, 42, of University Park, Texas, the CEO of USPlabs, pleaded guilty on February 28 to conspiracy to introduce misbranded food into interstate commerce. In addition, S.K. Laboratories pleaded guilty on February 25 to introduction of misbranded food into interstate commerce, and USPlabs pleaded guilty to conspiracy to introduce misbranded food into interstate commerce on March 5.

The misbranding charges all relate in part to OxyElite Pro, which was recalled in 2013 in the wake of an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration into whether the supplement caused liver injuries in consumers. All of the defendants were charged in a 2015 indictment returned by a Dallas federal grand jury in the Northern District of Texas.

“Dietary supplement makers may not disregard the law and trick consumers about what is in their products,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “Consumers are entitled to trust that the products they consume are safe. We will continue to investigate and prosecute those who enable the sale of mislabeled and potentially unsafe dietary supplements.”

The indictment alleged that the defendants participated in a conspiracy to import dietary supplement ingredients from China, including the stimulant known as “DMAA,” using false certificates of analysis and false labeling, and then lied about the source and nature of those ingredients. According to the indictment, the defendants told some of their retailers and wholesalers that USPlabs products contained natural plant extracts, when in fact they contained a synthetic stimulant manufactured in a Chinese chemical factory. The indictment also alleged that the defendants sold some of their products without determining whether they would be safe to use. According to the indictment, USPlabs products related to the conspiracy brought the company hundreds of millions of dollars.

In pleading guilty, Doyle, Geissler, and Patel admitted that they imported substances with false and misleading labeling in part to avoid law enforcement and regulatory agency attention. Willson and Hebert admitted that they helped to cause a dietary supplement to be shipped with false labeling regarding the ingredients it contained.

“Consumers deserve to know exactly what’s in their dietary supplements,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox. “We cannot stand by as supplement companies deceive customers – especially when they use untested, suspect ingredients in their products.”

“Americans who choose to take dietary supplements expect that those products are safe and properly labeled,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “Dietary supplement labeling that falsely or misleadingly declares its contents presents a risk to the public, and the FDA will exercise its full authority under the law to bring to justice all those who produce and distribute misbranded dietary supplements.”

Doyle and Geissler pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Harris Toliver. Patel, Willson, Hebert, S.K. Laboratories, and USPlabs pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay. Patel faces a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment; Doyle and Geissler face up to five years’ imprisonment; and Willson and Hebert face up to three years’ imprisonment. The individual defendants, together with the companies, agreed to pay criminal fines and forfeitures totaling about $60 million. The court set sentencing hearings for Willson and Hebert on July 8, 2019, for Patel and S.K. Laboratories on Aug. 12, 2019, and for USPlabs on Aug. 19, 2019. The remaining sentencing dates have not yet been set.

The case was investigated by FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys David Sullivan, Patrick Runkle, and Raquel Toledo with the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch, and Assistant United States Attorneys Errin Martin and John DelaGarza of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas.

Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts may be found at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, visit its website at https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndtx.

Investment Fraud: Donald Watkins Sr. And Jr. Plead Guilty On Multiple Charges For Their Roles In Investment Fraud And Bank Fraud Schemes

Father And Son Conviceted of Multimillion-Dollar Investment Fraud Scheme

BIRMINGHAM – A federal jury found a father and son guilty Friday of multiple charges for their roles in investment fraud and bank fraud schemes in which they stole over $10 million from individual investors—including multiple former professional athletes – and Alamerica Bank of Birmingham, Alabama.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town of the Northern District of Alabama and Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. of the FBI Birmingham Field Office made the announcement.

Donald Watkins Sr., 70, of Atlanta, Georgia, was convicted on seven counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy. Donald Watkins Jr., 46, of Birmingham was convicted on one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Sentencing is set for July 16 before U.S. District Court Judge Karon O. Bowdre of the Northern District of Alabama, who presided over the trial.

“The jury’s verdict today sends a clear message: Donald Watkins Sr. and Donald Watkins Jr. are frauds, plain and simple,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “They induced their victims to part with more than $10 million of supposed ‘investment capital’ and used it to support their lavish lifestyle. I want to thank the prosecutors and law enforcement agents for their hard work investigating and prosecuting this case.”

“This was a case about deception and greed at the expense of too many,” said U.S. Attorney Town. “The findings of guilt for these two individuals should forewarn anyone who would seek to defraud investors so brazenly. We appreciate the labor of the jurors whose role as citizens in this process is so critical to our system of justice. We are also grateful to the Alabama Securities Commission and the Department of Justice’s Fraud Section for allowing their personnel to engage in this prosecution.”

“Both of the men found guilty today are financial predators who truly represent pure greed,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Sharp. “We are pleased that the defendants in this case are being held accountable for their crimes and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who commit these types of financial crimes.”

According to evidence presented at trial, between approximately 2007 and 2013, Donald Watkins Sr. sold “economic participations” and promissory notes connected with Masada Resource Group, a company that he ran as manager and CEO. Investors paid millions of dollars after Donald Watkins Sr. and Donald Watkins Jr. falsely represented that the money would be used to grow Masada, which Donald Watkins Sr. described as a “pre-revenue” company that supposedly had technology that could convert garbage into ethanol. Instead of investing the money into Masada, however, Donald Watkins Sr. and Donald Watkins Jr. diverted funds to pay personal bills and the debts of their other business ventures. The evidence showed that victim money was used to pay for Donald Watkins Sr.’s alimony, hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes, personal loan payments, a private jet and clothing purchased by Donald Watkins Jr. and his wife. Emails introduced at trial also showed that Donald Watkins Jr. and Donald Watkins Sr. planned to obtain millions of dollars for these purposes from one victim on multiple occasions, when they knew that their victims trusted them to put their money to use in growing Masada. The defendants’ scheme eventually grew to include another business venture, Nabirm Global, a company that Donald Watkins Sr. claimed held mineral rights in Namibia.

Donald Watkins Sr. also defrauded Alamerica Bank, an entity in which Donald Watkins Sr. was the largest shareholder, the evidence showed. In order to pay hundreds of thousands in litigation expenses associated with another one of Donald Watkins Sr.’s business ventures, Donald Watkins Sr. executed a plan to use a straw borrower to take out money from Alamerica Bank and give it to them. This straw borrower—Donald Watkins Sr.’s long-time mentor and a prominent figure in the Birmingham community—took over $900,000 in loans from Alamerica Bank and then immediately permitted Donald Watkins Sr. and Donald Watkins Jr. to use those funds for their personal benefit.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Birmingham Field Office. Trial Attorney Kyle C. Hankey of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lloyd C. Peeples III, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Beau Brown (on detail from the Alabama Securities Commission) and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Xavier O. Carter Sr. of the Northern District of Alabama prosecuted the case.

Investment Fraud: DAVID MIDDENDORF And JEFFREY WADA Convicted Of Wire Fraud Charges In Connection With Their Scheme To Defraud The PCAOB

Former KPMG Executive And Former PCAOB Employee Convicted Of Wire Fraud For Scheme To Steal And Use Confidential PCAOB Information

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that DAVID MIDDENDORF, who was the National Managing Partner for audit quality at the accounting firm KPMG LLP (“KPMG”), and JEFFREY WADA a former employee of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (the “PCAOB”), were convicted of wire fraud charges in connection with their scheme to defraud the PCAOB by obtaining, disseminating, and using confidential lists of which KPMG audits the PCAOB would be reviewing so that KPMG could improve its performance in PCAOB inspections.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As this trial revealed, David Middendorf and Jeffrey Wada were two links in a chain of corruption, where confidential PCAOB inspection information was taken at the behest of high-level executives at KPMG so they could cheat on inspections. This confidential information was critical to the PCAOB and its core mission of ensuring audit quality. As a unanimous jury found, the actions of Middendorf and Wada defrauded the PCAOB.”

According to the evidence presented during the trial:

The PCAOB is a nonprofit corporation overseen by the SEC that inspects the audit work performed by registered accounting firms (“Auditors”) with respect to the financial statements of publicly traded companies (“Issuers”). The PCAOB inspects the largest U.S. accounting firms on an annual basis. As part of the inspection process, the PCAOB chooses a selection of audits performed by the accounting firm for a closer review, commonly referred to as an inspection. Until shortly before an inspection occurs, the PCAOB does not disclose which audits are being inspected, or the focus areas for those inspections, because it wants to ensure that an Auditor does not perform additional work or modify its work papers in anticipation of an inspection. Following the completion of an inspection, the PCAOB issues an Inspection Report containing any negative findings or “comments” with respect to both the specific audits reviewed and the accounting firm more generally.

KPMG is one of the largest accounting firms in the world. In recent years, KPMG fared poorly in PCAOB inspections, and in 2014 received approximately twice as many comments as its competitor firms. By at least in or about 2015, KPMG was engaged in efforts to improve its performance in PCAOB inspections, including but not limited to recruiting and hiring former PCAOB personnel. At the time, MIDDENDORF was head of KPMG’s National Office, also known as the Department of Professional Practice (the “DPP”), which was broadly responsible for the quality of KPMG’s audits and KPMG’s performance in PCAOB inspections.

KPMG’s efforts to improve inspection results, however, were not limited to legitimate means. Instead, between 2015 and 2017, MIDDENDORF and others worked illicitly to acquire valuable confidential PCAOB information concerning which KPMG audits would be inspected in an effort to game the system and improve inspection results. For example, beginning in 2015, Brian Sweet, a former PCAOB employee who had joined KPMG, provided MIDDENDORF, Thomas Whittle, and others with the PCAOB’s confidential 2015 list of inspection selections, at MIDDENDORF’s request, so that the information could be used by MIDDENDORF, Whittle, and others, to improve KPMG’s performance on PCAOB inspections.

WADA was an Inspections Leader at the PCAOB, who was obligated to keep confidential the PCAOB’s nonpublic information. WADA joined the conspiracy in the fall of 2015 and began passing confidential information to KPMG. In March 2016, WADA provided Cynthia Holder, a KPMG employee, with confidential information on certain of the PCAOB’s 2016 inspection selections. Holder, in turn, provided the 2016 inspection selections to Sweet, who passed them to MIDDENDORF, Whittle, and others. MIDDENDORF, Whittle, Sweet, and others then agreed to launch a stealth program to “re-review” the audits that had been selected, and agreed to keep their stealth re-reviews within their “circle of trust.” In order to cover up their illicit conduct, other KPMG engagement partners were given a false explanation for the re-reviews. The stealth re-review program allowed KPMG to strengthen its work papers.

In January 2017, WADA, who had been passed over for promotion at the PCAOB, again stole valuable confidential PCAOB information, misappropriating a preliminary list of confidential 2017 inspection selections for KPMG audits and passing it on to Holder, referring to it in a voicemail as the “grocery list.” At the same time, WADA provided Holder with his resume and sought her assistance in helping him to acquire employment at KPMG. Sweet internally shared the preliminary inspection selections provided by WADA with Whittle, another co-conspirator, who in turn shared it with MIDDENDORF, who approved its use to improve the audits on the list.

In February 2017, WADA texted Holder saying, “I have the grocery list. . . . All the things you’ll need for the year.” WADA then spoke to Holder and provided her with the full confidential 2017 final inspection selections. Holder again shared the stolen information with Sweet, who shared it with MIDDENDORF, Whittle, and others, so that it could be acted upon to improve the audits on the list.

In 2017, a KPMG partner learned from Sweet that one of her audits was on the PCAOB inspection list, and she reported the matter to her supervisor. The matter was then ultimately reported to KPMG’s Office of General Counsel.

MIDDENDORF, 54, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud (Count Two) and three counts of wire fraud (Counts Three, Four, and Five). WADA, 43, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud (Count Two) and two counts of wire fraud (Counts Four and Five). The conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud charges each carry a maximum prison term of 20 years. MIDDENDORF and WADA were each acquitted of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States (Count One).

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the United States Postal Inspection Service and also thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rebecca Mermelstein, Amanda Kramer, and Jordan Estes are in charge of the prosecution.

Financial Fraud: Covidien LP Has Agreed To Pay To Resolve Allegations That It Violated The False Claims Act

Covidien To Pay Over $17 Million To The United States For Allegedly Providing Illegal Remuneration In The Form Of Practice And Market Development Support To Physicians

SAN FRANCISCO – Covidien LP has agreed to pay $17,477,947 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by providing free or discounted practice development and market development support to physicians located in California and Florida to induce purchases of Covidien’s vein ablation products, the Department of Justice announced today.

“Patients in federal health care programs deserve medical care that is free from improper financial incentives,” said U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California. “As this case makes clear, companies must steer clear of violating the Anti-Kickback Statute or risk being pursued.”

“Today’s settlement serves as an important reminder to those in the health care community that unlawful kickbacks come in many forms and are not limited to monetary payments to providers,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “Providing free or discounted services to health care providers to induce the use of certain items or services can lead to excessive and unnecessary treatments, and drive up health care costs for everyone.”

The United States alleged that Covidien violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and, correspondingly, the False Claims Act by providing practice development and market development support to health care providers located in California and Florida from Jan. 1, 2011, through Sept. 30, 2014, to induce those providers to purchase ClosureFASTTM radiofrequency ablation catheters that were billed to Medicare and to the California and Florida Medicaid programs. ClosureFastTM catheters are used in procedures that treat venous reflux disease, a disease often marked by the presence of varicose veins. The practice and market development support Covidien provided included customized marketing plans for specific vein practices; scheduling and conducting “lunch and learn” meetings and dinners with other physicians to drive referrals to specific vein practices; and providing substantial assistance to specific vein practices in connection with planning, promoting, and conducting vein screening events to cultivate new patients for those practices.

The Anti-Kickback Act prohibits the payment of remuneration to induce the referral or use of items or services paid for by federal health care programs. Remuneration includes not only cash payments but also offers or payments made “in kind.”

“The government contended that Covidien provided discounted or free services to health providers — and so hoped to evade kickback charges,” said Steven J. Ryan, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Companies seeking to buy clients through such arrangements can expect to pay a steep price.”

“Kickback schemes don’t just victimize those directly involved, they undermine the public’s trust in our healthcare system and drive up costs for everyone,” said FBI San Francisco Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, “This significant settlement sends a clear message: healthcare providers who engage in this kind of activity and put their own greed before the needs of their patients will be aggressively pursued by the FBI and our federal partners.”

Under the settlement agreement, Covidien will pay an additional $1,474,892 to California and $1,047,160 to Florida for claims settled by these state Medicaid programs. The Medicaid program is a jointly funded federal and state program.

The settlement resolves allegations contained in lawsuits filed by Erin Hayes and Richard Ponder (former sales managers for Covidien) and Shawnea Howerton (a former employee of one of Covidien’s customers), which are pending in federal court in San Francisco, California. The lawsuits were filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the United States for false claims and to share in any recovery. Mr. Hayes and Mr. Ponder will receive $3,146,030 as their share of the federal recovery.

The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the California Attorney General’s Office and the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Covidien cooperated in the government’s investigation, including by sharing the results of its extensive internal investigation and by assisting in the development of a sophisticated damages model, and received credit for its cooperation.

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability. This case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly Friday and U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Amy Kossak with assistance from Garland He, Jonathan Birch, and Tina Louie.

Cyber Crime: Codrut Dumitrescu, Laurentiu Costea and Cosmin Draghici, Pleaded Guilty To Participating In a Multi-Million Dollar

Three Romanian citizens plead guilty to participating in a multi-million dollar “vishing and smishing” scheme

ATLANTA – Robert Codrut Dumitrescu pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud conspiracy, computer fraud and abuse, and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme, orchestrated from Romania, which resulted in the illegal intrusion into computer servers in the United States, deployment of phishing messages to thousands of victims, and subsequent theft of victims’ social security numbers and bank account information. His conspirators, Teodor Laurentiu Costea and Cosmin Draghici, also pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal charges related to this scheme.

“These defendants thought they could hide behind their computers in Romania and defraud the citizens of the Northern District of Georgia and elsewhere across the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “These guilty pleas resulted from a tireless investigative effort to locate these fraudsters and bring them to justice in our District. We will continue to protect our citizens from cyber-criminals, no matter how far the investigation reaches.”

“Cyber criminals cannot hide in the shadows of the internet no matter where they are,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI won’t let geographic boundaries stop us from pursuing those persons who cause tremendous financial pain to U.S. citizens. To the victims of these three conspirators and other cyber criminals, we will continue to identify them and pursue justice.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court: From approximately October 2011 through February 2014, Robert Codrut Dumitrescu, Teodor Laurentiu Costea and Cosmin Draghici conducted a “vishing” and “smishing” scheme from Romania. “Vishing” is a type of phishing scheme that communicates a phishing message, that is, a message that purports to be from a legitimate source, in this case the victims’ banks, through a voice recording. “Smishing” is similar to “vishing,” but communicates a phishing message through text messages.

As part of the scheme, the defendants compromised computer servers located in the Northern District of Georgia, and elsewhere, and installed both interactive voice response and bulk emailing software which initiated thousands of telephone calls and text messages to victims in the Northern District of Georgia, and across the United States, tricking them into disclosing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as financial account numbers, PINs, and social security numbers. When a victim received a telephone call, the recipient would be greeted by a recorded message falsely claiming to be a bank. The interactive voice response software would then prompt the victim to enter their PII.

When a victim received a text message, the message purported to be from a bank and directed the recipient to call a telephone number hosted by a compromised Voice Over Internet Protocol server. When the victim called the telephone number, they were prompted by the interactive voice response software to enter their PII. The stolen PII was stored on the compromised computer servers and accessed by Dumitrescu and Costea, who then sold or used the fraudulently obtained information with the assistance of Draghici.

At the time of their arrests in Romania, Dumitrescu possessed 3,278 financial account numbers, Costea possessed 36,050 financial account numbers, and Draghici possessed 3,465 financial account numbers – all fraudulently obtained through this scheme. Based upon these numbers alone, the estimated loss amount is expected to exceed $21,000,000.

On August 16, 2017, a grand jury charged Robert Codrut Dumitrescu, 41, Teodor Laurentiu Costea, 42, and Cosmin Draghici, 29, all of Ploiesti, Romania, with multiple federal computer and fraud-related crimes in connection with this scheme. Dumitrescu, Draghici, and Costea were extradited from Romania to Atlanta last year to face these charges.

Sentencing is scheduled for Costea on June 11, 2019 at 2:00 p.m., for Draghici on June 12, 2019 at 11:00 a.m., and for Dumitrescu on July 23, 2019 at 2:00 p.m., all before U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Herskowitz, Chief of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crime Section, is prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

Financial Fraud: Edward And Linda Mangano Guilty On Multiple Counts Of Accepting Bribes And Kickbacks in Exchange For Official Government Action

Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and His Wife Linda Mangano Convicted of Corruption and Related Charges by a Federal Jury

Earlier today, following a seven-week trial, a federal jury in Central Islip, New York, returned guilty verdicts against former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano on multiple counts of accepting bribes and kickbacks in exchange for official government action, and for conspiracy to obstruct justice. Linda Mangano, the wife of Edward Mangano, was also convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents in connection with her employment by Long Island restaurateur Harendra Singh.

When they are sentenced by United States District Judge Joan M. Azrack, Edward Mangano faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment on honest services wire fraud charges and conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, up to 10 years’ imprisonment for federal program bribery, and up to five years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to commit federal program bribery. Edward Mangano and Linda Mangano each face up to 20 years’ imprisonment for each obstruction of justice charge, and up to five years’ imprisonment for each false statement charge.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, FBI, New York Field Office, and Jonathan D. Larsen, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS-CI), announced the verdict.

“As found by the jury, Edward Mangano abused his power as a public official by taking bribes and kickbacks from a businessman in exchange for helping him obtain loans worth millions of taxpayer dollars,” stated U.S. Attorney Donoghue. “Among the personal benefits received was a lucrative no-show job for Linda Mangano. The defendants tried and failed to cover up their crimes by lying to the FBI and federal prosecutors, and will now be held responsible for these crimes. No one is above the law. The Eastern District and the FBI will be relentless in our efforts to root out corruption at all levels of government in New York.”

“In a quid-pro-quo wheeling and dealing, Edward Mangano effectively opened the door that unjustly benefitted restaurateur Harendra Singh, sat idly by while public funds were exchanged for favors, and waited patiently in the wings to accept a payout for the plan he put in motion,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “In Linda Mangano’s case, she kept up the ruse with a bogus job as food taster and menu planner at one of Singh’s restaurants. Whether they believe it or not, today we’ve proven they bit off more than they could chew.”

“Serving the public is an honor, especially when that position is the result of being elected by the people,” stated IRS-Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Larsen. “Mr. Mangano abused his elected office and the trust of his constituents. Our agents from IRS-CI diligently utilized their investigative expertise to prove these complex financial transactions.”

The evidence at trial established that between January 2010 and February 2015, Edward Mangano engaged in schemes to solicit and receive bribes and kickbacks from Singh. In return for the cash and personal benefits he received, Mangano, who served as Nassau County Executive from January 2010 to December 2017, performed official actions to benefit Singh in connection with his businesses.

The TOB Loan Scheme

Several weeks after Edward Mangano took office as Nassau County Executive in January 2010, he urged the TOB Supervisor to help Singh obtain financing in order to make required capital improvements at TOBAY Beach and The Woodlands at the TOB golf course, by authorizing the TOB to indirectly guarantee four bank loans totaling approximately $20 million. Mangano used his official position to ensure that the TOB backed the loans. In April 2010, Singh hired Linda Mangano for a sham job as the purported Director of Marketing for Singh’s businesses. On June 8, 2010, the TOB board voted to authorize the town to back Singh’s personal loans for the beach and the golf course. Singh paid for five vacations, hardwood flooring, a custom-made office chair, a massage chair and a watch for the Manganos, as well as over $450,000 in total for Linda Mangano’s no-show job.

Obstruction of Justice

Edward and Linda Mangano conspired to obstruct a federal grand jury investigation when they schemed with Singh to fabricate examples of work never performed by Linda Mangano’s at the Water’s Edge, in an attempt to thwart a grand jury investigation. On May 20, 2015 and May 22, 2015, Linda Mangano made false statements to the FBI and federal prosecutors about the work she claimed to have performed for Singh.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Catherine M. Mirabile, Lara Treinis Gatz and Christopher Caffarone are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant United States Attorney Madeline O’Connor of the Office’s Civil Division is responsible for the forfeiture of assets.

The Defendants:

Age: 56
Bethpage, New York

Age: 56
Bethpage, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-CR-540 (S-2) (JMA)

Cyber Crime: Konstantin Ignatov Charged International Pyramid Scheme That Involved The Marketing Of a Fraudulent Cryptocurrency

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Leaders Of “OneCoin,” A Multibillion-Dollar Pyramid Scheme Involving The Sale Of A Fraudulent Cryptocurrency

Current Leader Konstantin Ignatov Arrested at Los Angeles International Airport

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the District Attorney for the County of New York, John R. Tafur, the Special Agent in Charge of the Newark Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), William F. Sweeney Jr., and the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that KONSTANTIN IGNATOV was arrested March 6, 2019, at the Los Angeles International Airport, on a wire fraud conspiracy charge stemming from his role as the leader of an international pyramid scheme that involved the marketing of a fraudulent cryptocurrency called “OneCoin.” An Indictment charging IGNATOV’s sister, RUJA IGNATOVA – a founder and original leader of OneCoin – with wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering offenses was unsealed yesterday. As a result of misrepresentations that IGNATOV, IGNATOVA, and others made about OneCoin, victims invested billions of dollars worldwide in the fraudulent cryptocurrency. Following his arrest, IGNATOV appeared in Magistrate Court in the Central District of California, and was detained on the charge contained in the Complaint.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, these defendants created a multibillion-dollar ‘cryptocurrency’ company based completely on lies and deceit. They promised big returns and minimal risk, but, as alleged, this business was a pyramid scheme based on smoke and mirrors more than zeroes and ones. Investors were victimized while the defendants got rich. Our Office has a history of successfully targeting, arresting, and convicting financial fraudsters, and this case is no different.”

New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said: “As alleged in the indictment, these defendants executed an old-school pyramid scheme on a new-school platform, compromising the integrity of New York’s financial system and defrauding investors out of billions. Our Office urges all crypto investors to scrutinize investment opportunities, recognize the prevalence of fraud in this underregulated space, and proceed with caution. I commend U.S. Attorney Berman and my Office’s Major Economic Crimes Bureau for their globe-spanning investigative work and shared commitment to protecting our markets from sophisticated white-collar fraudsters.”

IRS Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur said: “This is an old scam with a virtual twist. As alleged in court documents, the cryptocurrency OneCoin was established for the sole purpose of defrauding investors. IGNATOV and IGNATOVA allegedly convinced victims to invest in OneCoin based on complete lies about the virtual currency. IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to investigating cryptocurrency scams in an effort to protect the American public and bring cryptocurrency crooks to justice.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney, Jr. said: “As we allege, OneCoin was a cryptocurrency existing only in the minds of its creators and their co-conspirators. Unlike authentic cryptocurrencies, which maintain records of their investors’ transaction history, OneCoin had no real value. It offered investors no method of tracing their money, and it could not be used to purchase anything. In fact, the only ones who stood to benefit from its existence were its founders and co-conspirators. Whether you’re dealing with virtual currency or cold, hard cash, we urge the public to exercise due diligence with any investment.”

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint charging KONSTANTIN IGNATOV and the Indictment charging RUJA IGNATOVA, and in other court papers, and other documents in the public record:

IGNATOV currently serves as the top leader of OneCoin Ltd., a company marketing a purported cryptocurrency named “OneCoin,” which the investigation has revealed is in fact a fraudulent pyramid scheme. OneCoin Ltd. was co-founded in 2014 by IGNATOVA, and is based in Sofia, Bulgaria. IGNATOVA served as OneCoin’s top leader until her disappearance from public view, in October 2017. Starting in late 2017, IGNATOV, who is IGNATOVA’s younger brother, assumed high-level positions at OneCoin, rising to the top leadership position by mid-2018.

OneCoin Ltd. operates as a multi-level marketing network through which members receive commissions for recruiting others to purchase cryptocurrency packages. This multi-level marketing structure appears to have influenced rapid growth of the OneCoin member network. Indeed, OneCoin Ltd. has claimed to have more than 3 million members worldwide, including victims living and/or working within the Southern District of New York. OneCoin continues to operate to this day.

As a result of misrepresentations made by IGNATOV, IGNATOVA, and other OneCoin representatives, victims throughout the world wired investment funds to OneCoin-controlled bank accounts in order to purchase OneCoin packages. Records obtained in the course of the investigation show that, between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the third quarter of 2016 alone, OneCoin Ltd. generated €3.353 billion in sales revenue and earned “profits” of €2.232 billion.

Among a number of other representations, OneCoin Ltd. has claimed that the OneCoin cryptocurrency is “mined” using mining servers maintained and operated by the company, and that the value of OneCoin is based on market supply and demand. The purported value of a OneCoin has steadily grown from €0.50 to approximately €29.95 per coin, as of January 2019. In fact, the value of OneCoin is determined internally and not based on market supply and demand; and OneCoins are not mined using computer resources. Moreover, the investigation has revealed that IGNATOVA and her co-founder conceived of and built the OneCoin business fully intending to use it to defraud investors. For example, in one email between IGNATOVA and her co-founder, IGNATOVA described her thoughts on the “exit strategy” for OneCoin. The first option that IGNATOVA listed was, “Take the money and run and blame someone else for this . . . .”

Additionally, OneCoin Ltd. has claimed to have a private “blockchain,” or a digital ledger identifying OneCoins and recording historical transactions. The investigation has revealed that OneCoin lacks a true blockchain, that is, a public and verifiable blockchain. Moreover, by approximately March 2015, IGNATOVA and her co-founder had started allocating to OneCoin members coins that did not even exist in OneCoin’s purported private blockchain, referring to those coins as “fake coins.”

As the founder and leader of OneCoin Ltd., IGNATOVA participated in efforts to market OneCoin to U.S. victim-investors. For example, on July 4, 2015, IGNATOVA participated in an online webinar, later posted to YouTube.com, in which IGNATOVA announced the official opening of the United States market for OneCoin.

Since taking over leadership of OneCoin following IGNATOVA’s disappearance from publicly running the company, IGNATOV has himself made false representations to OneCoin members to solicit trader package purchases and investments into the company. For example, IGNATOV has repeatedly represented that an “initial public offering” of OneCoin would occur on various dates in 2018 and 2019, in an effort to generate excitement and solicit additional investments from member victims. However, the purported offering was repeatedly postponed, and no such offering has taken place. Moreover, IGNATOV has been personally involved in manually setting and increasing the purported Euro value of OneCoin, contradicting claims that the value is set by supply and demand. Finally, the investigation has revealed that IGNATOV is aware that OneCoin-derived funds have been routed through a series of purported “investment fund” accounts used to hide the origin of the money, i.e., to launder OneCoin fraud proceeds.

Between February 27, 2019, and March 6, 2019, IGNATOV travelled to the United States to conduct OneCoin-related business, including in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he stayed at a casino resort. While in Las Vegas, IGNATOV met with a number of OneCoin affiliates. During the meeting, one of the first questions posed to IGNATOV was when OneCoin members would be able to monetize, or “cash out,” their OneCoins. IGNATOV reportedly responded, “if you are here to cash out, leave this room now, because you don’t understand what this project is about.”

IGNATOVA, a third defendant, MARK S. SCOTT, and others agreed to launder the proceeds of the OneCoin fraud scheme. Specifically, IGNATOVA, SCOTT, and others agreed with others to conduct transactions involving OneCoin fraud proceeds in order to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of the proceeds. SCOTT, a former partner of a major United States law firm, assisted IGNATOVA and others in laundering more than $400 million through a series of purported investment funds holding bank accounts at financial institutions in the Cayman Islands and the Republic of Ireland, among other locations. The indictment charging SCOTT was previously unsealed, and SCOTT was arrested in Barnstable, Massachusetts, on September 5, 2018. SCOTT’s case is currently pending before U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos.

IGNATOVA, 38, of Sofia, Bulgaria, is charged with one count each of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years sentence, and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. IGNATOVA remains at large.

IGNATOV, 33, of Sofia, Bulgaria, is charged by Complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

SCOTT, 50, of Coral Gables, Florida, is charged by Indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Berman and Mr. Vance praised the outstanding investigative work of IRS-CI and the FBI, which jointly conducted this investigation with the Special Agents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and analysts from the New York County DA’s Office Major Economic Crimes Bureau.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit and Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher J. DiMase and Nicholas Folly, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Julieta V. Lozano of the New York County District Attorney’s Office, are in charge of the prosecution.

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

If you think you may have been a victim in this case or have additional information, please contact the United States Attorney’s Office at 866-874-8900, or by email at USANYS.OneCoin@usa.doj.gov.

Financial Fraud: Brian Thomas Reynolds Convicted In Related to Defrauding Investors Of a Local Newspaper

Convicted Felon Arrested for Fraud Scheme Involving Local Newspaper

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A previously convicted felon was arrested this morning on charges related to defrauding investors of a local newspaper, unlawful possession of firearms by a previously convicted felon, and making false statements to the FBI.

According to allegations in the indictments, Brian Thomas Reynolds, 52, of Leesburg, defrauded both investors and lenders to a company that he controlled that operates a local newspaper in Loudoun County. As alleged in that indictment, Reynolds made several materially false and fraudulent representations to actual and potential investors and lenders regarding the existence and value of advertising contracts held by the company, and created fake advertising contracts when no such agreements existed. Reynolds also allegedly made materially false and fraudulent representations regarding the company’s historical advertising revenues and the amount of money that Reynolds and others had invested in the company, falsely claimed that another individual had agreed to “match” the investments of certain investors, falsely claimed to at least one investor that the company lacked any debt, understated the amount of debt owed by the company to other investors, and materially overstated the amount of money held by the company in its bank accounts.

The indictment further alleges that Reynolds created altered loan documentation to defraud an individual who had lent money to the company by changing the language of the loan agreement to conditions that were materially more favorable to Reynolds and his company than had actually been agreed to by the lender. According to the indictment, Reynolds also made materially false representations regarding the number of issues previously distributed by the newspaper, and falsely claimed that a prominent businessperson served on the company’s advisory board, when in fact that individual held no position on the board and played no role in the operation of the business.

A second indictment charges Reynolds, who is a convicted felon, with unlawfully possessing eight firearms and associated ammunition, and with making false statements to the FBI regarding his use of firearms.

Reynolds is charged with 11 counts of wire fraud, one count of unlawful possession of firearms by a convicted felon, and one count of making false statements. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud, a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for the unlawful possession of firearms, and a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison for making false statements. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Burke and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case Nos. 1:19-cr-70 and 1:19-cr-71.

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.

Tax Fraud: JOSEPH SCALI Was Sentenced For Mail Fraud, Structuring Cash Transactions, Making False Statements

Disbarred Orange County Attorney Sentenced To 7 Years In Prison For Mail Fraud, Tax Evasion, Obstruction Of Justice, Perjury, And Other Crimes

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that former Orange County attorney JOSEPH SCALI was sentenced to seven years in prison in connection with SCALI’s conviction for mail fraud, structuring cash transactions, making false statements to the IRS, obstructing the IRS, tax evasion, obstruction of justice, and perjury following a four-week jury trial. SCALI was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Nelson S. Román, who presided over the trial.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Joseph Scali, a former attorney, was convicted of embezzling $850,000 from his attorney trust account that held third party funds from an uncompleted real estate transaction. Instead of returning the funds – which he was required to do by law – Scali used them on his personal expenses, including sports tickets and international travel. Scali also filed false tax returns and made false sworn statements to the court. Joseph Scali violated his responsibilities as a lawyer and a taxpayer, and now will have seven years in federal prison to reflect on his wide array of financial crimes and failure to act ethically before the court.”

According to the Indictment, court filings, and statements made in public court proceedings:

From January 2011 through August 2012, SCALI – then a licensed, practicing attorney – perpetrated a scheme to defraud a prospective buyer of land and mineral rights in Pennsylvania. SCALI represented the seller in the land transaction and was entrusted to hold the buyer’s funds in his attorney trust account pending closing, which never took place. Instead of preserving the buyer’s funds and returning them when the transaction fell through, SCALI embezzled $850,000 of the buyer’s money from his attorney trust account and spent the majority on personal expenses, including season sports tickets, luxury clothing items, and trips abroad.

After defrauding the buyer, SCALI engaged in tax evasion for the years 2011 and 2012 by, among other things, deliberately withholding from the IRS his attorney trust account records, which would have revealed the funds he had misappropriated and made him liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid federal income taxes.

In addition, between 2006 and November 2013, SCALI corruptly endeavored to obstruct the IRS by (a) providing materially false, incomplete, and misleading information to an IRS Revenue Officer about his tax filing history and income; (b) commingling client funds and personal funds in his attorney trust account; (c) paying for personal items directly out of his attorney trust account; (d) structuring $32,400 in cash deposits into his attorney trust account. In addition, SCALI failed to timely file U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns, Forms 1040, for the years 2006 through 2012, as well as U.S. Corporate Income Tax Returns, Forms 1120, for his law firm, Joseph G. Scali, P.C., for the years 2007 through 2012, notwithstanding that he was required by law to file a return for each year. SCALI was also separately convicted of making false statements to the IRS and structuring cash deposits.

In all, SCALI caused the IRS to incur losses of over $500,000, not including penalties and interest.

SCALI also committed obstruction of justice and perjury when, in seeking to set aside his disbarment by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, he lied under oath to that court about the reason for his 2013 suspension from the practice of law in New York State.

In 2014 and 2015, SCALI perpetrated a second mail fraud scheme by fraudulently undertaking a legal representation of a client for a fee without disclosing his 2013 suspension from the practice of law in New York State.

On July 6, 2016, SCALI was disbarred by the Second Judicial Department of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Román ordered SCALI to serve three years of supervised release and to pay restitution totaling $1,511,534.73 to the victims of his mail fraud schemes and the IRS.

Mr. Berman praised the work of the IRS, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Special Agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in this investigation. Mr. Berman also thanked the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, the New York State Police, the Counsel for the Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District of New York State, the Counsel for the Committee on Grievances for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and the Counsel for the IOLA Fund of New York for their assistance and cooperation in the investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Olga Zverovich, Vladislav Vainberg, and Daniel Noble are in charge of the prosecution.

Tax Fraud: Six Defendants Have Been Charged Into Corruption Schemes Allegedly Carried

Federal Charges Allege Corruption Schemes by South Suburban Harvey Officials and Associates

CHICAGO — Six defendants have been charged as part of an ongoing federal investigation into corruption schemes allegedly carried out by city of Harvey officials or their associates. Among the defendants are two cousins with high-ranking relatives in Harvey government who allegedly extorted cash from a strip club owner, and two Harvey police officers who allegedly falsified a police report to protect acquaintances from facing firearm charges. Federal law enforcement today executed court-authorized search warrants at two locations in Harvey.

Several of the defendants were arrested today and are scheduled to make initial court appearances today at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez in Chicago.

The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Gabriel L. Grchan, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago; Brad Geary, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General in Chicago; and Thomas J. Dart, Cook County Sheriff. The Harvey Police Department is cooperating in the investigation. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean J.B. Franzblau, Grayson S. Walker and Brian P. Netols.

Criminal complaints unsealed today in federal court in Chicago allege three separate corruption schemes:

U.S. v. Kellogg, et al, 19 CR 192

ROMMELL KELLOGG, 66, of Harvey, and COREY JOHNSON, 63, of Harvey, are charged with conspiracy to commit extortion. Kellogg and Johnson are cousins with high-ranking relatives in Harvey government, the complaint states. From 2012 to 2016, Kellogg and Johnson conspired to regularly extort payments from a Harvey strip club owner based on threats that the city would shut down the business if the payments were not made, the complaint states. The charges allege that in exchange for the payments, city officials allowed the business to operate, knowing that acts of prostitution were occurring onsite.

U.S. v. Muhammad, et al, 19 CR 190

DERRICK MUHAMMAD, 70, of South Holland, and DERRICK MOORE, 48, of Blue Island, are charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Muhammad and Moore are Harvey Police Department officers who allegedly worked together to falsify a police report to protect two acquaintances from possibly facing firearm charges. The acquaintances – a father and son – were convicted felons who could not legally possess a firearm, the complaint states.

In March 2018, the operator of a Harvey-based towing company notified Muhammad that a handgun was discovered in a Chrysler 300 sedan that had been reported stolen and ordered towed by police in nearby Calumet City, the complaint states. The sedan was used by the father and had recently been driven by the son. Muhammad and Moore schemed to conceal the firearm’s connection to the pair, with Moore preparing and filing a police report stating that he discovered the weapon in some brush near the towing company “while on patrol,” the charges allege.

U.S. v. Luster, et al, 19 CR 191

DONALD LUSTER, 55, of Dixmoor, and WILL WILEY, 56, of Harvey, are charged with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery. Luster worked as a private consultant to the city of Harvey. In November 2017, he agreed with Wiley to solicit bribe payments from an entrepreneur who owned a towing company in a nearby suburb, the complaint states. In exchange for the bribes, Luster would provide the entrepreneur with a lease to a parcel of land owned by the city of Harvey, the complaint states.

Unbeknownst to Luster and Wiley, the entrepreneur was cooperating with law enforcement and had agreed to make consensual recordings of conversations and meetings with the pair, the complaint states. In a recorded meeting on Dec. 3, 2017, the entrepreneur paid a cash bribe of $5,000 to Wiley, the complaint states. Shortly thereafter, an employee of the city of Harvey provided the entrepreneur access to the parcel of land. On Jan. 5, 2018, the entrepreneur delivered a $7,000 cash bribe to Luster, after which Luster and the city employee advised that the entrepreneur could continue to access and use the parcel, the complaint states. An official lease was never provided to the entrepreneur, the complaint states.

The public is reminded that charges are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The conspiracy counts are each punishable by up to five years in prison, while the obstruction charge is punishable by up to 20 years. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Anyone wishing to notify law enforcement of suspected corruption in Harvey is encouraged to email the FBI at harvey.info@fbi.gov.