Southern Florida’s Top Federal Prosecutor Says Offshore Biz-Op Fraudsters Have No Safe Havens; United States Throws Down Gauntlet To Criminal Hucksters
“This is true even if they operate from outside of the United States,” said Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. “International law enforcement cooperation eliminates safe havens for those who cheat American citizens from overseas.”
Ferrer’s remarks came in response to guilty pleas entered by Silvio Carrano and Gregory Britt Fleming after an intense investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
And Ferrer’s words were backed up by the head of the civil division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The United States “will continue to aggressively prosecute those who defraud Americans in an effort to make a quick buck,” said Assistant Attorney General Tony West.
Carrano and Fleming were among a group of defendants who tricked customers into believing the “opportunities” they presented were based entirely in the United States. The businesses actually were operating from Costa Rica and were criminal scams that resulted in multiple prosecutions against multiple people peddling everything from vending machines and coffee to greeting cards and bogus claims of assistance, prosecutors said.
Customers paid thousands of dollars each to join the programs based on profitability lies and tales of financial success told by the schemers. Shills helped sell the schemes, prosecutors said.
Carrano and Fleming pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for their roles in the schemes, which operated for months, prosecutors said.
“After one company closed, the next opened,” prosecutors said, identifying the businesses as Apex Management Group Inc., USA Beverages Inc., Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee Inc., Cards-R-Us Inc., Premier Cards Inc., The Coffee Man Inc. and Nation West Distribution Co.
Also recently pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud was Donald Williams, who was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison. Co-defendant Patrick Williams, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, 10 counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud.
Sentencing for Patrick Williams is scheduled for March 30. Sentencing for Carrano and Fleming is scheduled for April 20.