Articles Tagged with fraud

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A woman from Colorado is facing several felony charges for allegations that she fraudulently accepted unemployment benefits while earning unreported money from jobs at the same time.

36-year-old Meadoe R. Croker began a claim for unemployment benefits beginning in January 2015 and started receiving checks shortly thereafter. She additionally renewed her claims in January 2016 and 2017.

Random audits are performed through the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and a company in Grand Junction that Croker allegedly worked for was chosen to have their accounts examined. It was discovered that Croker was purportedly an employee of the business while she was still accepting her unemployment checks, and an investigation was opened.

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An ex-insurance agent from San Clemente has been accused of using fraudulent practices to profit off of investments he made for at least six elderly clients in Southern California.

55-year-old Mark Malatesta, a man employed as a licensed insurance agent, was taken into custody on Monday after the California Department of Insurance detectives found what they believe is supporting evidence that he was taking part in a monetary ruse which cost his former clients over $1.6 million. The alleged victims were reported as senior citizens, who are said to be a target demographic of an increasing number of deceptions designed to cheat them out of their money, as reported by Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

Malatesta has been accused of a procedure called “churning,” wherein a broker who typically has permission to make independent determinations on how to invest money from the client’s account performs transactions “chiefly to generate commissions that benefit the broker,” as described by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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A Dana Point resident who allegedly made millions of dollars in purchases through fraudulent means at several businesses in San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties is facing 89 charges for the schemes.

Over a nine-month period last year, businesses in three Southern California counties were the victims of a forced-sale scheme consisting of the perpetrator purchasing expensive merchandise with credit cards; some of which were fake and others were inactive. The standard authorization process that the credit card machines typically issue was surpassed by the customer requesting that the sales associate enter the transaction by hand or telling them to force the sale through.

When the transactions were processed by the credit card companies the merchants received notification that the payment was not approved.

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A Riverside County woman who worked as a foreclosure specialist at Fannie Mae in Irvine has been accused of taking over $1 million through accepting bribery and employing fraudulent sales practices with company-owned properties.

Shirene Hernandez, a 45-year-old resident of Riverside County, was a real estate owned foreclosure specialist for the government-sponsored Fannie Mae in Irvine. Her job duties entailed matching properties owned by the company with brokers and accepting sales offers when proposed by the brokers.

During a time period spanning from April 2011 and July 2016 Hernandez has been accused of personally profiting off of the sales transactions of the properties through fraudulent means. Court documents reflect that Hernandez allegedly accepted gifts and cash from certain brokers in order for them to gain the listing so they would profit off of the sales commissions. In addition, some of the foreclosed properties were said to have been purchased by Hernandez at a price below market value, using different names, and then rented out for profit. In total, it was estimated that Hernandez acquired more than $1 in profits from the alleged fraud.

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A 67-year-old man is facing hundreds of counts of wire fraud and money laundering for alleged participation as what police call a “middle man” in a common type of email scam dubbed “Nigerian prince.”

These shams, so named for many of them originating in Nigeria though they happen all over the world, typically connive people out of personal information such as bank account numbers under the pretense that they are assisting someone from Nigerian royalty in transferring money to the United States. The scammer then offers compensation for their aid. Law enforcement stated that investigating this type of crime poses challenges, “as many leads have led to individuals who live outside of the United States.”

After an 18-month and still ongoing investigation, police arrested Michael Neu on November 28 as they believed he was working with associates in Nigeria and serving as an intermediator in the fraudulent operations.

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A woman working as a psychic out of a business in Mount Vernon, Washington, has been charged with defrauding clients after she was convicted for the same offense nearly ten years ago in Florida.

69-year-old Linda Marks, a woman claiming she is a psychic, stood trial in 2006 in Florida for scamming mostly ill and vulnerable clients for more than $2 million over a period of eight years by offering supernatural solutions to their dilemmas. Just before she was given a four year sentence she made a statement to the court apologizing for her actions. Marks explained that she learned to steal as a result of growing up in a gypsy community, and a family member trained her in fortunetelling. “This is our heritage. This is the way we are taught to survive,” she said.

Marks has now moved her business to Mount Vernon, Washington. A woman recently sought the help of Marks for romantic, physical and family problems which were causing her to suffer from depression. Marks allegedly informed the woman that she was afflicted with a curse, and she could be cured through spiritual means.

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Idaho resident Ashley Nicole Vidrine has been accused of fraudulently advertising a rental property and accepting money from interested prospective tenants while having no intention of renting to them.

Though Vidrine and her husband reside in the townhouse she had listed as available for rent, police estimated she allegedly accepted down payments for the property nearing $3000 since the start of their investigation in early September. When would-be tenants who paid her went to view the property they found no one available, and Vidrine was unable to be reached by telephone. It is unknown at this time whether or not her husband was also a part of the hoax.

Police took 25-year-old Vidrine into custody on Thursday and she faces multiple charges including felony grand theft by deception, and felony computer crime for “Use of a computer or network to obtain money by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises or committing theft.” In addition, Vidrine is charged with one count of misdemeanor petty theft. She is being held in Madison County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

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Two men dining at a Waffle House in Louisiana on Saturday allegedly left the restaurant without paying their bill totaling $7.81. Workers at the establishment notified law enforcement reporting the incident, and also disclosed that the men drove off in a U-Haul van.

While police took statements from employees of the restaurant, patrolling officers noticed a U-Haul fitting the description parked in the lot of a hotel in the vicinity. As they approached the van the officers immediately apprehended the driver, California resident Stayshawn D. Stephens. The passenger, identified as Richard A. Brown, of Indiana, tried to escape into the forest on foot, but a K-9 officer exposed his whereabouts and he was taken into custody.

Upon inspection of the contents of the van, Deputy Chief Daniel Hunter reported finding credit card skimmers, which are electronic devices with the ability to store personal information gathered by swiping credit cards. They also discovered fake ID’s, credit cards, and a bill from a Waffle House for $7.41.

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Last year after winning the election President Donald Trump issued an executive order establishing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Chaired by the Vice President the commission was formed to investigate Trump’s posit that voter fraud in the United States needs to be addressed, after he made claims that numerous phony ballots were counted causing him to lose the popular vote to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. According to a senior administration official who asked to remain anonymous, a man working as a researcher on the commission was arrested on alleged charges of child pornography after law enforcement observed the pornographic material on his cell phone.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children issued a tip to the Maryland State Police’s Internet Crime against Children Task Force about possible circulation of child pornography traced to a specific internet address. The suspect was purported to be 37-year-old Ronald Williams II, a researcher working with the Advisory Commission on assignment from an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency called the Office of the Special Counsel.

State police reported that they searched Williams’ home and on initial inspection of his cellphone, “multiple files of child pornography” were located. He was taken into custody and he is facing 11 counts of possession and distribution of child pornography.

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Louisville resident Kingsley I. Ekpendu has been accused of targeting elderly people using a hoax consisting of telling them they had won cash prizes in a sweepstakes. He allegedly extorted money from the assumed winners after sending them counterfeit checks to deposit into their bank accounts. He then asked that they overnight money to a specified address. It is suspected that he was able to con hundreds of thousands of dollars from people in this manner.

Police stated that between September 2 and October 4 Ekpendu allegedly mailed letters to three or more addresses announcing they were winners of the Publishers Clearing House Super Cash Giveaway. The letters held fraudulent checks for amounts between $6,000 and $8,000, and instructions to deposit the check and overnight mail an amount ranging from $5,200 to $7,000 in order to claim their winnings.

Law enforcement received information from a local shipping company who became suspicious of the number and size of the packages being delivered to an address that appeared to be a vacant dwelling. Ekpendu received the first two of the three packages, and police intervened before he was able to get the third.