Two South Florida residents have been arrested after police claim they threatened to leak sexually explicit images of social media star “YesJulz” unless she paid them.

A 28-year-old and a 33-year-old were arrested Friday on extortion charges.

Miami Beach police believe the two contacted “YesJulz” and claimed to have X-rated photos of her.

They allegedly gave her 24 hours to pay them $18,000, threatening to publish the pictures online if she didn’t.

The two were arrested as they were waiting in a car on Miami Beach.

Police say one of the men arrested has admitted to the crime.The other denies any involvement.

The New York Times recently named “YesJulz” the “Queen of SnapChat,” where she has more than 300,000 viewers.

Extortion is defined as the use of non-physical force to persuade another person to do something for you. With the growth of the Internet and social media, this type of crime has taken on entirely new form, which has been labeled sextortion. Similar to extortion, sextortion is the use of sexual exploitation to make another person do something for you or give you something, like money.  

Sextortion is committed when someone uses guilt, power or damaging information about another person in an attempt to force that person to do something they do not want to do. This frequently occurs on social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Three people have been convicted of alleged Medicare and Medicaid fraud in a $1 billion scheme in Miami.

“This is the largest single criminal healthcare fraud case ever brought against individuals by the Department of Justice,” said Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General the department’s criminal division, in a statement issued Friday.

A 47-year-old man allegedly led a scheme that referred Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who did not qualify to skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. The man owned 30 such facilities, giving him access to thousands of beneficiaries, according to reports.

Also charged in the scheme are a 49-year-old hospital administrator and a 56-year-old physician’s assistant.

The three also are accused of accepting kickbacks, disguised as charitable donations or paid in cash, for directing the beneficiaries to selected health care providers, including pharmacies, health care agencies and mental health centers, according to investigators.

Medicare or Medicaid fraud happens when a provider knowingly makes a false or misleading statement or representation for use in obtaining reimbursement from the medical assistance program. Medicare and Medicaid providers include doctors, dentists, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, clinics, counselors, personal care/homemaker companies, and any other individual or company that is paid by the the programs.

Medicaid fraud includes, but is not limited to:

  • Billing for medical services that were never performed, known as phantom billing
  • Billing for a more expensive service than was actually performed, known as upcoding
  • Billing for multiple services that should be combined into one billing, known as unbundling
  • Billing several time for the same medical service
  • Dispensing generic drugs and billing for brand-name drugs
  • Giving or accepting something in return for medical services, which is known as a kickback
  • Providing unnecessary services
  • Filing false cost reports

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A South Florida doctor will spend more than three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to falsely diagnosing hundreds of patients in a Medicare fraud scheme.

Court records show the 57-year-old Delray Beach doctor was also ordered Wednesday by a federal judge to pay more than $2.1 million in restitution to the government. The man previously pleaded guilty to health care fraud.

Authorities claim the man falsely diagnosed 387 patients enrolled in the Medicare Advantage program with a rare spinal condition. The patients were enrolled in a Humana Inc. health plan that was reimbursed for each diagnosis by Medicare.

The federal program paid out $2.1 million in excess benefits, 80 percent of which went to the doctor. Almost none of the patients actually had the rare spinal condition, according to reports.

Medicare and Medicaid fraud is taken quite seriously on local, state and federal levels. It is important to note that these cases are heavily investigated before charges are brought forth. With that said, you will most likely know about the possibility of being charged long before an indictment is filed against you.

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The Florida Supreme Court amended the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure last week, stripping Florida state prosecutors of their discretion to disclose information about informants.  Under a new rule that lifts the curtain on the jailhouse snitches who long have been the source of false testimony in criminal cases,  juries will be provided a more complete picture of the context of an informant’s testimony.

The Innocence Commission estimates that as many as 15 percent of convictions later overturned by DNA testing involved false testimony by informants at trial and that informant perjury was a factor in nearly 50 percent of wrongful murder convictions and in 46 percent of exonerations for death row inmates.

New Procedure rules protect defendants from self-serving informant testimony

New Procedure rules protect defendants from self-serving informant testimony

Three men– a native Russian and two Latvians–were recently arrested by Federal Agents who say that the men were using skimming devices on ATMs in Palm Beach County.

Reports say that the men were charged with conspiracy to knowingly use with intent to defraud one or more counterfeit access devices and knowingly possessing with intent to defraud device-making equipment.

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 3.37.38 PMAccording to the federal complaint, the men’s apprehension started with an investigation by Customs and Border Protection officers who fell upon a package originating from Turkey at a mail hub in Kentucky. The package contained a “flexible shaft machine,” and 15 skimmers or similar devices used to capture credit card information.

The Palm Beach Post is reporting that North Miami Mayor, Lucie Tondreau, has been charged with mortgage fraud and wire fraud.

North Miami Beach mayor, Lucie Tondreau

North Miami mayor, Lucie Tondreau

The federal indictment that was unsealed yesterday, alleges that Tondreau used a radio show to recruit straw buyers, who were used to defraud lenders in buying 20 properties. It is estimated that the fraud scheme involved over $8 million of funds. According to Federal Prosecutors, the crimes took place before Tondreau was elected mayor, in June 2013. Lately, the Miami Dade County Fraud Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have noticed a trend of the Department of Justice using wire fraud charges in conjunction with the prosecution of RICO, money laundering and mortgage fraud because wire fraud is the easiest crime for an AUSA to prosecute. Many times, the sentencing range for a conviction for wire fraud will exceed the sentence available these other offenses. Having a seasoned white collar crime attorney representing your interest in paramount—even you are just being investigated for a crime. The wire fraud attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you navigate this confusing process and many times, can even prevent charges from being filed. CALL US TODAY: LOCAL (561) 367-8777 OR STATEWIDE, TOLL FREE: (866) 608-5529.

FDLE is reporting that crime is down in Hendry County.

Data shows that total arrests were down 13.9 percent from 2011 to 2012, with violent crime arrests down nearly five percent. Violent crime was defined by the study as Murder, Sex Offenses, Robbery, and Aggravated Assault.

What is unclear is the contributing factors to this decline. Were there less crimes committed, or have economic factors impacted Hendry County Sheriff’s Office’s ability to investigate and arrest?

The Martin County Sheriff’s Office is targeting meth labs and are looking to the community to help them on their quest.

News reports claim that eleven methamphetamine-related arrests in recent months prompted a town hall meeting last week, including a Stuart meth lab that was shut down last month and the recent arrest of a Jensen Beach man who was arrested for running a meth lab out of his home, despite being in a wheelchair.

Authorities credit new laws focused on cracking down on pill mills as contributing to the recent increase of methamphetamine use.

A Vero Beach man was arrested on Tuesday after he allegedly admitted to police that he had downloaded “a lot” of child porn.

During a search of his home, the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office confiscated at least 21 videos of children engaged in sex.

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IRCSO reports that the man admitted using a laptop to download child pornography. He didn’t know how many videos he downloaded. The man is being held on a $105,000 bond and detectives expect to file more charges once his laptop is examined.

We’ve been keeping tabs on the DOJ’s evolving policy on charging federal drug offenses (see past posts, here and here), and it appears that Attorney General Eric Holder is indeed keeping his promise of instituting charging policies that focus on high-level criminals as well as rehabilitation.   As part of those “Smart on Crime” efforts, the attorney general this past week announced a new policy making it easier for some drug defendants to obtain shorter sentences.

Graph courtesy of TRAC/ Syracuse University

Graph courtesy of TRAC/ Syracuse University

The Huffington Post is reporting that number of defendants charged with federal drug crimes in January dropped to its lowest monthly level in nearly 14 years, not long after AG Holder established a series of changes to the criminal justice system.