Articles Posted in White Collar Crime

The former mayor of North Miami Beach has been charged in an alleged $150,000 land investment scheme.

The man was arrested Tuesday and charged with securities fraud, grand theft, sale of an unregistered security and sale of security by an unregistered dealer.

According to the Miami-Dade County state attorney’s office, the man made a series of false investment representations and omitted several facts to an investor who donated $150,000 to the man intended for the development of 2.2 acres of vacant land in North Miami.

An investigation by prosecutors and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation revealed that the partnership failed to gain any additional investors.

Instead of returning the donated $150,000, the money was allegedly used to pay $13,000 toward the former mayor’s home mortgage, $10,000 to his construction company, $86,700 to himself directly and about $30,000 in personal expenses through his construction company, according to police.

Prosecutors said a balance of just $350 was left in the investment account when all was said and done.

The former mayor was being held at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on a $20,000 bond.

Securities fraud, otherwise known as investment fraud, is an intentional and deceptive business practice that occurs when a person and/or company conceals financial information to try to influence the purchasing behavior of investors and shareholders. People found guilty of securities fraud can face serious penalties that may include restitution, fines, jail time loss of license and others. If you are facing charges for any type of securities fraud offense, it is critical that you seek the advice of a South Florida White Collar Crimes Lawyer at Whittel & Melton who will fight to protect your interests.

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A Fort Lauderdale resident was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison for tax evasion.

According to documents filed with the court, the 53-year-old man evaded paying taxes on more than $1.5 million in income that he earned from 2002 to 2015. Except for the 2007 tax year, the man has not filed an income tax return since 2002. He worked for a Fort Lauderdale company selling hurricane-resistant windows to residential homeowners in South Florida. In August 2009, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notified the man of its intent to levy his wages because of his failure to pay taxes. According to reports, the man established his own business and changed his employment status from an employee to an independent contractor to obstruct the IRS’s collection efforts. The man listed himself as the director of the business and opened a business bank account in its name. Due to the man’s change in employment status, his employer paid his business directly and the IRS’s attempts to levy the man’s wages were thwarted.

From approximately August 2009 through April 2017, the man allegedly used his business’ bank account to pay for personal expenses, including rent, cigars, international travel, entertainment, his girlfriend’s cosmetic surgery, jewelry, and a boat. He also apparently falsely classified numerous personal expenses as business expenses on the memo line of the checks drawn on the business bank account.

The man apparently admitted that he made these false entries with the intent to claim false business expense deductions and evade the assessment of his income taxes. The man also apparently admitted that his actions caused a tax loss of more than $351,241.

In addition to the term of prison imposed, the judge ordered the man to serve two years of supervised release and to pay $459,481.03 in restitution to the IRS.

When tax matters turn criminal or have the potential to turn criminal, you must take immediate action to minimize or eliminate the potential consequences. The operative word when dealing with criminal matters is speed: the earlier you have a criminal defense attorney assess the situation and work quickly to resolve the matter, the less the damage can be.

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Two South Florida men were arrested Wednesday on trafficking in fraudulent credit cards after an Interstate 75 traffic stop allegedly uncovered gas pump keys, scores of fake cards and more.

A 29-year-old Hollywood man and a 42-year-old Miramar man were pulled over on I-75 northbound near mile marker 378 based on a traffic violation, according to a Gainesville Police Department arrest report.

During a search of the vehicle, police claim they found 80 fraudulent cards in a paper bag, two wallets with seven fraudulent credit cards, a credit card encoder, gas pump keys and other devices related to fraudulent card activity.

The seven cards in the wallet had numbers written on the back that appeared to be ZIP codes.

Both men were charged with trafficking in counterfeit credit cards and encoding fraudulent cards.

As of Thursday morning, both men were being held in Alachua County jail in lieu of $70,000 bond.

Anyone who uses someone else’s lost or stolen credit cards to buy merchandise or services can be charged with credit card fraud. Likewise, anyone using a bank, ATM or credit card device by using another person’s credit card, account number, or personal identification number (PIN) can be charged with credit card fraud. If a person is selling and/or trafficking credit cards or is found to be in possession of materials that are commonly used to counterfeit credit cards, they need a criminal defense attorney to help them beat these credit card trafficking and fraud charges.

Good people can get easily get implicated in this type of criminal activity.  Regardless of what role you play in this type of crime, the prosecution will take a serious stance against you. You need a strong and capable criminal defense lawyer to assert your rights and defend your freedom.

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A Boca Raton woman was sentenced to four years and three months in prison for submitting fraudulent student loan applications online.

According to investigators, the 31-year-old tricked nursing students at the Coral Ridge Training School into giving out their personal information, which she then used to sign up for loans without their consent.

At the time, the woman was an employee at the school, officials said.

Many students found out about the unauthorized loans when they started receiving letters from the loan servicing companies.

Wire Fraud is a very serious criminal offense under federal law. A conviction usually results in stiff fines and lengthy time behind bars. There are 2 major factors that outline if wire fraud was committed:

  • The accused willfully intended to devise a scheme or means to defraud another person of money or property with the intent to defraud.
  • The accused committed the scheme through the use of interstate wire facilities, such as telephone, television, email or the Internet.

If you are being investigated for or have been arrested for wire fraud it is vital to the outcome of your case to obtain legal help right away. These types of crimes are usually investigated over a solid period of time by police as they build their case. It is not uncommon for police to reach out to those suspected of committing wire fraud to try and gather more evidence against the accused. If you are under investigation for wire fraud or have already been charged, let our South Florida Wire Fraud Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton help you with your defense. We will make sure your rights are protected.

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A former Democratic state lawmaker is facing a federal indictment for allegedly using campaign funds to cover personal expenses.

It was announced earlier this month that former state Rep. Dwayne Taylor, 49, of Daytona Beach has been charged with nine counts of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to funnel money from his campaign to personal funds.

Taylor could face a maximum of 20 years in prison on each of the nine counts.

Prosecutors are also seeking $62,834, “representing the amount of proceeds obtained as a result of the offense,” though the amounts withdrawn from the campaign in the nine counts listed in the indictment totaled $2,440.

According to the indictment, Taylor “would withdraw cash from the Dwayne L. Taylor Campaign Accounts at automated teller machines (ATMs) … and, within minutes or hours, deposit the same or a similar amount of cash into one of TAYLOR’s personal accounts.”

Taylor used at least one check for similar reasons, the indictment said.

Taylor is accused of using the funds for personal expenses and then filing fake or inflated campaign expense reports to cover his alleged misuse of the money.

Under Florida law, campaign money may not be used to defray normal living expenses, other than for transportation, meals, and lodging that is campaign-related.

Taylor served as his campaign’s treasurer in 2012 and 2014, when he was seeking re-election to the House, according to reports, which deals with funds from those two campaigns.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

There are many different aspects of wire fraud charges, so it is best to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that a strong case can be built on your behalf. It is up to prosecutors to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed every element of the criminal act of wire fraud. If they cannot prove this, then they cannot achieve a conviction. This is why it is imperative for your defense lawyer to highlight any flaws or weaknesses in the case.

The elements of wire fraud generally consist of using mail or electronic communications in furtherance of defrauding, deceiving or cheating someone out of honest services.

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Thirteen people, mostly from South Florida, are facing federal charges of mail fraud and conspiracy for allegedly defrauding approximately $23 million from investors — mostly seniors — around the nation.

According to investigators, two linked telemarketing frauds, based in Miami Lakes and Marina Del Rey, Calif., touted stocks for Sanomedics Inc. and Fun Cool Free stocks between 2009 and 2015.

The telemarketers claimed to be selling profitable shares in companies that provided thermometers for humans and dogs and games for smartphones, according to authorities.

Five of the 13 arrested were also charged with wire fraud.

Due to the increase in telephone scams over the past few years, the federal government along with state authorities have been cracking down on any suspected telemarketing fraud schemes. If you or your company is under investigation for fraud or you are facing criminal charges, it is best to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.

Telemarketing fraud can involve many actions or schemes, such as:

  • Convincing someone to pay a fee to obtain a credit card or to restore credit – also known as advanced fee scams.
  • Telling a person you will enter their name into a lottery for a prize to obtain the person’s personal information for fraudulent purposes.
  • Bullying or pressuring the person to act quickly and send a payment.
  • Promising a product or service and never following through.
  • Promising the person will make a lot of money working from home and other get-rich-quick schemes – also known as a pyramid scheme.
  • Selling fake timeshares.
  • Tricking a person into making a wire transfer.

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A man convicted of conspiring to defraud more than 30,000 Americans out of about $31 million was sentenced on Thursday to 16 years in prison.

The California man was also ordered to pay $11.9 million in forfeiture and restitution.

The man was convicted of running a mortgage scheme  from November 2011 through May 2014, causing more than 60 homeowners to lose their homes.

The man apparently oversaw about 65 telemarketers and managers in his role as general manager of sales at the company.

Prosecutors claim that the Irvine-based company persuaded homeowners in dire financial shape to modify the terms of their mortgages to make them more affordable.

Four other people convicted in the scheme are awaiting sentencing.

With the housing market where it is currently, prosecutors are going after anyone accused of mortgage fraud to the fullest extent of the law. Rest assured that they will stop at nothing to achieve a conviction for this white collar crime. Their ultimate goal is to make sure that anyone accused of mortgage fraud is proven guilty.

Loan and mortgage fraud can be complicated, and most of these cases are unique. Our South Florida Fraud Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can comb through every shred of evidence in your case to filter fiction from fact, so that we establish the most powerful defense on your behalf. We can aggressively attack the prosecution’s case and make sure your rights are protected.

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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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