Articles Posted in Fraud

The U.S. government inspects Medicare expenses charged by physicians. The state government also carefully examines doctors’ charges and the patient’s health assessments as well. Since the government is paying the bills, it has the right to examine and dispute anything they want. The probe from federal and state law enforcement officers can bring to light errors that may lead to prosecution for Medicare fraud.

Being convicted of Medicare fraud can result in long-term imprisonment and hefty fines.

The Code of Federal Regulations describes Medicare fraud as “an intentional deception or misrepresentation made by a person with the knowledge that the deception could result in some unauthorized benefit to himself or some other person.”

A woman from South Florida was charged with impersonating a federal agent. She would attend churches in Hialeah, Florida and target undocumented citizens who had hopes of becoming a U.S. citizen. She would tell them that she was a Federal Immigration Agent, as well as the Head Supervisor for the South Florida Immigration Department and that she was able to help expedite their process of becoming an American citizen. She was given over $15,000 from different people. As a result, she faces charges including grand theft and impersonating a federal officer.

The crime of Falsely Impersonating an Officer is a Third Degree Felony in FL and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation and a $5,000 fine.

The law offices of Michael B. Cohen can help you understand more about false impersonation, the penalties that come with the conviction and the best defenses to fight the charges.

The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020. It is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering financially from the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the CARES Act is the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and other expenses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional funding, and in December 2020, another $284 billion. Now that the pandemic feels a bit more handled and businesses are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the government is now making a sweep of people who abused PPP loans. Several people are being accused and charged with fraud for claiming businesses and payroll expenses that do not exist. A recent notable case is Jeremie Saintvil, a Florida man who allegedly obtained more than $1.5 million in PPP loans from credit unions and banks. This includes committing identity theft against eight elderly individuals. Before leaving office, U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida coined South Florida “the fraud capital of the world” and she may have a point. Over the past year, 38 criminal cases with $75 million in fraudulent COVID-19 relief claims have been filed. This is the highest number of any region in the country. A few things that fall under the umbrella of PPP fraud are:

  • Spending PPP funds for unapproved purposes
  • PPP loans from multiple lenders

Finding yourself in the back of a cop car being charged with serious criminal charges might be the scariest thing that can happen to you, but even scarier is not knowing who will represent you in court. Of course, there will be a million things running through your head whether you’re innocent or not, however, involving a criminal defense attorney should be on the top of the to-do list.

Although hiring a criminal defense attorney might not be as inexpensive as one may hope, many fail to realize that this will save you thousands and thousands of dollars in the long run. And ultimately, it beats the price of going to prison. Additionally, having an experienced lawyer by your side to help you navigate through the issue and protect your constitutional liberties is priceless.

When to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney

“A gambling problem can negatively affect an individual’s home life, financial status, career, education, social relationships, and physical and emotional health.”

These words can be found on the helpline page of The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling’s website.

Their mission statement demonstrates that they’re “committed to increasing public awareness about problem and compulsive gambling.”

In a scheme that bilked an elderly man out of over a quarter million dollars, a Broward jury found Matthew Stevens not guilty of the crime after deliberating for only a little more than five hours. This was Stevens’ second trial for the crime, the first one resulting in a hung jury.

But here’s the rub. Gina Stevens, the defendant’s common law wife under their shared Gypsy culture tradition who had three children with the defendant did not fare as well as her husband, once he was acquitted of the crime. They were both charged with grand theft but Mrs. Steven’s had no deal in place for testifying against her husband.

Broward Circuit Judge Barbara McCarthy sentenced Gina Stevens to 56 months in prison with 627 days credit for time served. She also ordered her to pay restitution of the $270,000 that was fleeced from the elderly victim.

The jury concluded that the victim, Charles Haas, a 91 year old World War II veteran from Hollywood was conned into giving the money to Mrs. Stevens under false pretenses. However, they apparently didn’t believe that her husband was the mastermind of the plot.

According to the prosecution as well as Mrs. Stevens’ testimony, her husband was the architect of the scam.

Gina befriended Haas in 2012, telling him she was a single mother of three who was recently widowed when her husband was killed in a car accident in Michigan. She claimed her name was Tiffany Williams. She told him she owned property in Chicago which was under government liens. Haas agreed to give her the money to pay off the holds on the property and testified in court that he expected to have the money returned to him after she sold the real estate.

Haas also testified that he previously helped secure an apartment for “Tiffany” in 2013 because she led him to believe that her landlord was increasing her rent by one hundred percent. He also bought her clothing and jewelry. It was around that time that he was introduced to Matthew Stevens who she deceptively told him was her cousin, also convincing him that he was gay.

As it turned out, the property in Chicago never existed; as was emphasized by the prosecution in their closing arguments, also declaring that Mrs. Stevens separated Haas from his entire life savings in the amount of approximately $280,000. The entire time period that all these events transpired was under four months.

But Mr. Steven’s defense lawyer told the jury that the facts showed that the prosecution had failed to prove a crime was even committed. He pointed out that Haas was of sound mind and body when he “lent” the money to his client’s wife, pointing out that he had no history of diminished mental capacity or dementia, and furnished the money eagerly, believing his generosity was advancing a romance with a younger woman. It was summed up by the defense as “a loan that didn’t work out”. He also went on to say that even if the jury concluded a crime was committed there was no proof that Mr. Stevens was aware of his wife’s actions and that the proceeds were given to Mrs. Steven’s mother and sister and not Mr. Stevens, according to his defense attorney.

The prosecutor responded to the defense attorney’s assertion by proclaiming to the jury “If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn… or a property in Chicago.”

In the end, the jury did believe a crime was perpetrated but could not connect the dots to convict Mr. Stevens of any wrongdoing for the second time. During the first trial he testified that he didn’t even know how much money his wife received from the victim.

But Mrs. Steven’s testimony/confession sealed her fate.

The money hasn’t been recovered and Haas doesn’t expect he’ll ever see the restitution ordered by the judge. When he took the stand he told the court that Gina Stevens ruined him financially and is bitter that Mr. Steven’s was not convicted the first time. His final beseeching words after the hearing were “I’m broke. I’m living in poverty… So how do I get welfare?” Haas’ daughter Mona was quoted as saying “People have to be vigilant… They can’t be so trusting.”

Continue reading ›

Indictment, Arrests and Sentencing
A three-year investigation looking into widespread commercial bribery and fraud in the electrical contracting industry led by the Inspector General for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey jointly with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office exposed the involvement of fifteen New York area companies and seventeen individuals as part of a 24-count indictment charging those involved with paying and receiving bribes, as well as falsifying business records.

In early December, two officers of Long Island City-based IG Federal Electrical Supply Corporation entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement. Chief Executive Officer and Vice President of Operations, Ira Friedman, 52, of Larchmont, pleaded guilty to falsifying business records. Friedmam falsely categorized as expenses; in excess of $1 million of their salaries. Consequently, by under-reporting the company payroll records through this salary scheme, IGF underpaid the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Local 3) employee benefit fund by approximately $150,000.

Furthermore, the company acknowledged violating New York State Law by committing commercial bribery, fraud, and theft for disbursing bribes to purchasing agents of electrical contracting companies and receiving kickbacks from purchasing agents, in addition to fraudulently filing paperwork claiming to be a woman-owned business (WOSB Program). According to the U.S. Small business Association, filing a company as a “woman-owned business” offers certain advantages. The Federal government is required to award five percent of its subcontract and prime monies to these businesses. The Program sanctions contracting officers to limit competition setting aside various requirements for competition, specifically among small businesses owned by women.

Sentencing for Friedman is anticipated to be carried out in late January 2014. He is expected to pay approximately $260,000 in back taxes and forfeit $650,000 in addition to serving six months in prison.

Two weeks after the Friedman’s sentence was decided, Alan Brite, 65, of Huntington, the president of Benfield Electric Supply Company, Inc. in the Bronx, was charged with disbursing bribes to purchasers at a number of companies to gain business, including raising the price of bids to Unity Electric Company with the intention of paying a kickback to Donald Russo, 54, of Huntington, who was a purchasing agent for that company, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Benfield Data Company and Benfield Controls which are divisions of the Benfield Electrical Supply Company by itself and together with Brite are now charged with an assortment of felonies and misdemeanors. Mr. Brite is personally charged with two counts of the class C felony: Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, three counts of the Class E felony: Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree as well as three counts and one count respectively of the class A misdemeanors: Commercial Bribery in the Second Degree, and Commercial Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree.

Donald Russo, 54, of Syosset, NY, thought he had it all figured out. As a purchasing agent for Unity he was the recipient of the bribes paid by Brite’s firm as well as those with the ability to do so from other companies in the construction industry. He didn’t know that an investigation was underway until he and his company were jointly indicted two weeks ago

Russo’s Bar Electrical, located in Plainview, NY is a shell company that was exclusively set up to accept bribes, according to the District Attorney’s office.

According to the Indictment, as his take for steering contracts to them, Russo received more than $600,000 from five separate electrical supply companies, including Brite’s company during the years of 2008 through 2012. Prosecutors explained that Russo would bloat the costs of contracts he was in charge of so that a percentage of the proceeds were directed his way in exchange for permitting Unity’s business to be the recipient of companies that would agree to the inflated terms.

Russo was charged with five counts of falsifying business records, two counts and four counts respectively of grand larceny and offering a false instrument for filing, three counts of receiving commercial bribes, as well as four counts of criminal tax fraud.

Continue reading ›

Conflict and personal drama are the traditional themes in the programming of reality TV shows. These television shows have become exceedingly popular since the onset of the twenty-first century and can be found on the major television networks as well as those viewed on cable TV. They deal with a theme of unscripted situations and actual happenings and usually feature a cast that was previously unfamiliar to the viewer.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey which can be seen on the Bravo network is an offshoot of the original show; the Real Housewives of Orange County. The inspiration for these shows was the fictional Desperate Housewives which first appeared on ABC in 2004. Other spinoffs include The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and those from many other American cities. Most of these shows have aired for multiple seasons, and are in production for future episodes with many new major cities targeted to host them.

In a case of life imitating art, two of the members of the New Jersey rendition of the show have found their own illustrations of personal drama and conflict.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced that two cast members of the show, Giuseppe (Joe) Giudice, 43, and his wife Teresa Giudice, 41 have been indicted on bankruptcy fraud and bank fraud which are federal offenses. A federal grand jury returned a 39-count indictment in which they were named. The indictment also carried charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and making false statements on loan applications. Additionally, the indictment charges that Giuseppe Giudice meaningfully did not file tax returns for the four year period of 2004 through 2008. It is alleged that Mr. Giudice earned close to $1 million during that time-frame.

The charges the couple faces were allegedly enacted between September 2001 and late 2008. Throughout that time period, the couple from Towaco, New Jersey, submitted fraudulent mortgage and loan applications, according to the indictment. One example demonstrated that in 2001, in an attempt to defraud the lender, Mrs. Giudice applied for a mortgage loan in an amount exceeding $120,000. She allegedly submitted fabricated pay stubs and falsified W-2 forms. She listed her occupational title as an executive assistant which was also a bogus claim. Also included in the indictment are charges of precise occasions where the couple was guilty of loan application fraud and bank fraud during the time they obtained loans from a number of banks.

The two are also accused of not divulging assets when they petitioned for bankruptcy in 2009. In October of that year they filed for Chapter Seven bankruptcy protection. Included in those effects was the non-disclosure of truthful facts and figures regarding rental properties, businesses they owned, and Mrs. Giudice’s actual compensation from the television show’s broadcasts.

Being convicted of any of the charges against them convey steep punishments A conviction for loan application fraud and bank fraud hold a penalty of a $1 million fine as well as each count carrying a maximum potential penalty of 30 years of incarceration. The fine for conspiracy to commit wire and/or mail fraud is $250,000 and each count carries a maximum prospective penalty of 20 years behind bars. The bankruptcy fraud carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each count and a $250,000 fine. In regard to failing to file tax returns, the penalties carry maximums of one year in prison for each count as well as a fine of $100,000.

Unrelated to the fraud charges, Mr. Giudice is also awaiting trial for charges of impersonation and wrongfully using identification information of another individual. According to he was arrested in 2011 and faces up to 10 years of incarceration if convicted of those unrelated charges. The case against him alleges that he used his brother’s identity to attain a driver’s license. In this separate action, Giudice has rebutted any misconduct.

To make matters worse at the time, the couple was hit with two additional charges of loan application fraud and bank fraud, adding two more counts to the indictment that was raised against them in July.

Continue reading ›

In the real world, it seems the more effort put into constructing locks and security systems to safeguard our possessions; lawbreakers develop abilities to build enhanced keys, and a superior illicit method to gain access to what is being guarded. Protecting the contents of our homes, cash and valuables is an ever-present, unending challenge. But in the Cyber world the level of sophistication reached by criminals responsible for computer incursions and hacking activities is constantly tested by our ability to thwart their entry.

The phenomena of modern technology has grown exponentially over the past have century. And most individuals use the Internet for a variety of purposes. For the most part when we visit our online banking or brokerage accounts the belief is that the transactions that are processed are secure, encrypted, and veiled from prying eyes.

But clever cyber-crooks are always out there, lurking in the shadows constantly attempting to find ways to cash in on activities in this virtual world.

Petr Murmylyuk, a.k.a. Dmitry Tokar, a Russian National who made his home in Brooklyn, NY is one of those shadow lurkers.

Murmylyuk’s cultivated knowledge in the workings of computers was substantiated by his arrest in November, 2011 when he was caught red-handed with a laptop in his possession containing more than enough evidence to implicate him in a substantial scam, along with his accomplices.

The Complaint against Murmylyuk asserts that he, along with an accomplice recruited Russian, as well as other foreign nationals in an online stock rigging scheme. The foreigners were either already living in the United States, or were visiting. Some were students. Three residents of Houston, Texas: Mikhail Shatov, Anton Mezentsev and Galina Korelina were among them as well as other unnamed participants. The group was instructed to open new bank accounts where illegal profits resultant from the proposed operation would be deposited.

Murmylyuk’s hacking abilities allowed him to gain illegal entry to online accounts of brokerage firm customer accounts at Fidelity, Scottrade, E-Trade, and Schwab among other brokerage firms not specifically listed. Telephone numbers and email addresses of the owners were then altered giving the group complete control of the hacked accounts. He and his connections then used identities that were originally illegally obtained or stolen to open new accounts at other brokerage houses. These accounts were termed “Profit Accounts” in the Information. After this method was introduced, they then made irrational and unprofitable trades using the victimized accounts leading to losses in the victims’ accounts and gains in the “Profit Accounts”.

An example of the swindle involved initiating trades that sold options contracts directly to the “Profit Accounts”. After the trade was offered the same contracts were specifically purchased back minutes later for “at times” almost ten times the original price. They also used “short selling” to achieve the same results. (Selling an issue short is a sale of stock that a shareholder doesn’t actually own, but instead borrows from an investor willing to do so with the hope of eventually returning it after the stock price drops resulting in a profit to the original shareholder who “sold it short”.)

This was done by using the “Profit Accounts” offering a short sale of a stock at a worth grossly inflated above the market price for that particular day for the given stock. Moments after the offering was proposed on the open market from the Hackers Accounts, the Hackers used their ability over the Victim Accounts to purchase the shares of the stock at the inflated price, which resulted in a profit for the owner of the “Profit Account” at the Victim Account’s expense. Murmylyuk and/or his associates then covered the falsified short sale by re-purchasing the security which was borrowed at the lower market price.

All proceeds were then transferred from the “Profit Accounts” into the new accounts and then transmitted to the bank accounts that were opened by Mezentsev, Korelina and Shatov as well as others involved in the scheme.

The profits received by Murmylyuk and his associates, generated by the scam, resulted in combined losses of roughly $1 million to the three named major brokerage houses as well as others.

Mikhail Shatov, Anton Mezentsev and Galina Korelina were previously charged in New Jersey and convicted for charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. U. S. District Judge Esther Salas sentenced Mezentsev to 27 months in federal prison. Korelina and Shatov were sentenced to14 months each, earlier in 2012.

Murmylyuk was formally charged in April, 2012, charged with unauthorized access to computers, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and securities fraud. The SEC is also filing a comparable civil action. He is currently in state custody looking at charges from a separate investigation directed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office where he is charged with identity theft of more than three-hundred individuals that were unemployed. He then allegedly collected bogus tax returns using their names and information.

Murmylyuk has pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to commit securities fraud charge. He pleaded guilty to identity theft and tax fraud charges earlier. He’ll face a $250,000 fine and a maximum penalty of five years in prison for the New Jersey case and fifteen years in prison for the case against him brought forward by the Manhattan district attorney. Sentencing is scheduled for November 12 for the securities fraud case.

Continue reading ›

Two reasons that criminals are eager to steal valuable paintings are because their values can be outrageous and the physical weights of the items are negligible. Transport is also not difficult once a painting is cut from its frame and rolled into a carrier tube.

Matthew Taylor, 45 was a freelance art dealer. Or at least that’s what he claimed to be. He was very persuasive in assuming the part. His knowledge of fine art seemed to be infinite. In addition to being a supposed dealer he also played the role of a customer very well.

Originally from Vero Beach, Florida, Taylor moved to Agoura, California in 2005. It was there that he quickly became a patron of the Los Angeles Fine Art Gallery. Between the years of his arrival in California, up until his arrest, he made frequent trips between the two states.

In September, 2011 a Los Angeles federal grand jury indicted Taylor on seven felony charges linked to art thefts. The indictment also charged that he defrauded an art collector out of millions of dollars by selling him forged paintings.

One of the paintings taken from the Fine Art Gallery in Los Angeles was a Granville Redmond named “Seascape at Twilight” which he sold to another gallery in that city for $85,000. He also stole a painting by Lucien Frank titled “Park Scene, Paris” according to the indictment. He later claimed that the Redmond piece was originally owned by his mother for many years before it came into his possession.

Taylor was seen in Vero Beach, FL with the painting by Frank several years after it went missing, following his sale of the Redmond. It was there that he attempted to sell the painting to an individual, claiming it was painted by a different artist after erasing Frank’s signature from the piece and then substituting it with the other.

According to the indictment he also sold forged artworks to a collector, maintaining that they were authentic, and that they were painted by revered artists. He sold the naïve collector more than 100 paintings, including some that he deceptively claimed were painted by Jackson Pollock, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Mark Rothko. He received more than two million dollars from the collector throughout the swindle in 2005 and 2006.

Taylor established methods to evade paying more than $400,000 in federal income taxes that was owed to the IRS from the illicit sales. He also laundered and transported the profits of his fraud across state lines, including more than $100,000 that was acquired through transactions of four forged paintings, during the above-mentioned timeframe.

His manner of disguising the actual origin of the alleged masterpieces was to mark over or otherwise conceal the signatures of the actual artists replacing them with facsimiles of the famed originals. He also placed bogus labels on the paintings which deceitfully characterized that the paintings were at one time parts of prominent collections that were housed at well-known museums such as the Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Last August, a jury found Taylor guilty of five separate felonies as follows: possession of stolen property that had crossed state lines, two counts of tax evasion, structuring cash transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements while on pretrial release and, wire fraud.

On July 11, before federal district judge John A. Kronstadt for the Central District of California, Taylor was sentenced to 7 ½ years in federal prison for the crimes relating to the art theft, forgery scheme and tax evasion matters. He was also ordered to pay over 1.2 million in restitution in addition to over $100,000 to two art galleries. He also has to pay the IRS more than $1.1 million for back taxes including interest and penalties. Judge Kronstadt also ordered that after his prison term ended he would have to face a period of supervised release during which time he would be prohibited from working in or owning “any business involving antiques and or art” without the specific consent of a probation officer that would be assigned to him.

The investigation into Taylor was conducted by the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division, the LAPD’s Art Theft Detail which is responsible for the investigation of burglaries and thefts when fine art is the primary object of interest as well as investigating fakes, frauds, and forgeries, as well as the FBI’s Art Crime Team

The latest FBI press release regarding this case can be found by clicking here.

Continue reading ›

Contact Information