Former Employee Of Debt Collection Agency, Sentenced To Prison On Wire Fraud Charge For Her Role In $3,000,000+ Debt Collection Scheme – July 24, 2020
Between January 2014 and February 2017, Shauniqua Rodriguez conspired with others in a debt collection scheme that was spearheaded by co-defendant Joseph Ciffa. Specifically, Rodriguez was an intermittent employee of the debt collection agency, which operated under various names. Rodriguez placed telephone calls to debtors throughout the United States, using various fraudulent tactics and misrepresentations, including false representing her identity, false threatening arrest, and fabricating criminal charges against the debtors in order to induce them to make payments. The debtors were often directed to other employees posing as attorneys and were provided with payment instructions, supposedly to settle their outstanding debts. In addition to making collection calls, Rodriguez also served as an informal trainer for other, less experienced employees.
Rodriguez and the employees she worked with and trained routinely collected on debts which they knew had already been satisfied, and collected money from debtors from whom they had already collected payment, who were deemed to be “easy targets. Debtors were instructed to make payment to the various debt collection businesses through various means, including MoneyGram payments, bank wire transfers, and debit/credit card payments. Between 2015 and 2016, the debt collection scheme brought in more than $3,000,000.
Former Employee Admits To $1.1 Million Embezzlement Scheme Over 25+ Years – July 24, 2020
According to court documents and statements made in court, for more than 25 years, Anthony Teixeira was employed by Joseph Merritt & Company (JMC), a Hartford-based printing company. Teixeira most recently oversaw the JMC branch located in Danbury. Between approximately January 2012 and February 2019, Teixeira defrauded JMC and its customers by presenting sales orders, or test sales orders, to customers as though they were actually invoices. Customers, believing they were paying JMC for the work, then delivered payments into accounts that Teixeira controlled. Teixeira also stole printing-related inventory from JMC inventory and sold it online, but manipulated invoices to deceive JMC’s systems into thinking the company had sold the inventory. The loss attributable to Teixeira through these schemes is approximately $1.1 million.
Former University Associate Director Pleads Guilty To Stealing $100,000+ From University – July 24, 2020
Doemini Mosley worked at Howard University from 2011 through June 2017, initially in the financial aid office and then ultimately as the Associate Director of the Bursar’s Office. Brian Johnson, a Howard graduate, served as Associate Director of Financial Aid from 2014 through August 2016. In the fall of 2016, Mosley proposed a scheme to Johnson in which Mosley would cause fraudulently-obtained money to be sent from Howard University to Johnson, with Johnson then kicking back half of the proceeds to Mosley. As part of the scheme, Mosley applied fraudulent financial aid awards onto Johnson’s student profile even though he was no longer a student or employed at the school. As a result, Mosley caused Howard University to issue $107,697.75 to Johnson’s bank account between November 2016 and May 2017. Johnson admitted sharing half of the fraud proceeds with Mosley in the form of cash or electronic payments.
Mosley also separately defrauded the university out of an additional $32,000 in May 2017.
Vice President Of Travel Company Charged With Embezzling $600,000+, Causing Company To File Bankruptcy – July 24,2020
Joseph Cipolletti was employed as Vice President of Discovery Tours, Inc., that offered educational trips for grade school and high school students. These trips took place via coach bus and included transportation, hotel accommodations, meals, sightseeing admissions, and security. Cipolletti was responsible for managing the organization’s finances, cash withdrawals, general ledger entries, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, taxes. Cipolletti had signature authority on the business bank accounts.
From June 2014 to May 2018, Cipolletti devised a scheme to divert payments intended for these trips for personal use. He defrauded parents, other student trip purchasers, and embezzled funds meant for school trips on items such as home renovations and personal vehicles. He is alleged to have embezzled approximately $609,942 from Discovery Tours.
Cipolletti allegedly took many actions to further his scheme, including making multiple false entries in the Discovery Tours general ledger claiming embezzled funds were trip-related expenses, forging an email to a hotel vendor claiming that the business suffered a loss of $236,022.27 due to a hacked account, paying vendors for previous student trips with deposits from future trips, and obtaining high-out interest loans to conceal his actions. The high interest on these loans ultimately led to Discovery Tours eventual bankruptcy filing.
Former Bookkeeper Sentenced To Prison For Stealing $301,000 From Employer – July 24, 2020
In 2018, Rebecca Armell was employed at Chimney Sweep. Armell misused the company’s Lowe’s credit card to obtain merchandise having a value in excess of $1000. Armell pleaded guilty to that charge.
According to court records, for 20 years prior to December 2018 when she was fired, Armell had worked at the Chimney Sweep, the last ten as a bookkeeper who had check-signing authority. Beginning around 2016, Armell began stealing from the company. She wrote checks to petty cash that she cashed and pocketed the proceeds. She wrote checks to herself that she deposited, falsifying entries in the company’s books to make it appear the checks had been issued to fellow employees. She also misused the company credit card to benefit herself, and charged personal automobile repairs to the Chimney Sweep account. In the aggregate, the losses total around $301,000.
Former Employee Pleads Guilty To $453,000 Embezzlement Scheme From 2 Previous Employers – July 24, 2020
Melissa Meole was employed by Bridgeport Health Care Center Inc. (BHCC-INC), a corporation that operates a nursing and rehabilitation facility in Bridgeport known as Bridgeport Health Care Center (BHCC). Prior to November 2018, BHCC-INC also operated a second nursing and rehabilitation facility in Bridgeport known as Bridgeport Manor. Meole worked in BHCC-INC’s business office and was responsible for processing payroll and for handling the finances of the Bridgeport Manor resident trust account. From 2015 to October 2018, Meole stole more than $415,000 by writing checks to cash out of the facilities’ resident trust accounts, which held the personal funds of residents. She then deposited the cash into her bank account. She also stole more than $29,000 by writing false payroll checks to current and former BHCC employees and then depositing those checks into her bank account by forging the employees’ signatures.
After Meole’s employment with BHCC-INC was terminated in October 2018, Meole defrauded another employer of more than $9,000 by stealing and fraudulently depositing into her own account certain checks that were returned to the company, often for incorrect addresses. She also defrauded three banks in a check kiting scheme.
Tesla Sues Rivian Over Alleged Trade Secret Theft By Former Employees – July 23, 2020
Tesla says it has discovered a disturbing pattern of former employees who took confidential information and trade secrets on their way to new jobs at startup Rivian.
Tesla says two of the named defendants admitted to taking confidential information. One is Tami Pascale, who was a senior manager in Tesla’s staffing department. Tesla says that one day after Pascale signed Rivian’s offer letter, she took at least ten confidential and proprietary documents from Tesla’s network, including candidate lists, information about where the automaker finds potential hires, and a “detailed internal write-up of an executive level candidate.
Jessica Siron, who was a manager in Tesla’s environmental, health, and safety department, allegedly sent documents to her personal Gmail account three days after signing an offer letter from Rivian. Tesla claims Siron initially denied doing this when confronted by its investigative team, but that she admitted to sending one document when pressed.
Former Payroll Manager Sentenced To Prison for Embezzling $260K From Employer – July 23, 2020
Barbara Buchanan was the payroll manager for a Connecticut company. Between approximately 2014 and September 2019, Buchanan made false entries and adjustments in the payroll system in order to wire company funds into her personal bank account. She also made false journal entries in the company’s tax records in an effort to hide her fraudulent activities. Through the scheme, Buchanan embezzled approximately $220,000 from the company.
Buchanan also used a company American Express card to make approximately $40,000 in personal purchases.
Former Bank Vice President Of Loan Operations Sentenced For $600,000+ Embezzlement Scheme – July 23, 2020
From 2013 through February 2018, Connie Clabo was employed at SmartBank as the Vice President of Loan Operations. During that time, Clabo abused her position of private trust with SmartBank by misusing her general-ledger and loan-operations oversight authority to steal, embezzle, misapply, and conceal the theft, embezzlement, and misapplication of more than $600,000 of Smartbank’s money, funds, and credits. Clabo’s conduct was not isolated, but reflected a pattern of repeated deceptive conduct over many years. Clabo abused her managerial position at SmartBank and used her knowledge of SmartBank’s internal controls for personal advantage intending to defraud SmartBank.
Former Congressman Charged With Ballot Stuffing, Bribery, And Obstruction – July 23, 2020
A former U.S. Congressman was charged with conspiring to violate voting rights by fraudulently stuffing the ballot boxes for specific candidates in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections, bribery of an election official, falsification of records, voting more than once in federal elections, and obstruction of justice.
Michael Myers, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is charged with conspiring with and bribing the former Judge of Elections for the 39th Ward, 36th Division, Domenick J. Demuro. Demuro, who pleaded guilty previously in federal court in Philadelphia, was responsible for overseeing the entire election process and all voter activities of his division in accord with federal and state election laws.
Myers is charged with bribing Demuro to illegally add votes for certain candidates of their mutual party in primary elections. Some of these candidates were individuals running for judicial office whose campaigns had hired Myers, and others were candidates for various federal, state, and local elective offices whom Myers favored for a variety of reasons. Myers would solicit payments from his clients in the form of cash or checks as “consulting fees,” and then use portions of these funds to pay Demuro and others in return for tampering with election results.
After receiving payments ranging from between $300 to $5,000 per election from the consultant, the court papers allege Demuro would add fraudulent votes on the voting machine – also known as “ringing up” votes – for Myers’ clients and preferred candidates, thereby diluting the value of ballots cast by actual voters. At Myers’ direction, Demuro would add these fraudulent votes to the totals during Election Day, and then would later falsely certify that the voting machine results were accurate. Myers is also accused of directing Demuro to lie about the circumstances of the bribes and the ballot-stuffing scheme to investigators.
Federal Agent And Accomplice Charged With Conspiring To Distribute Drugs, Obstruct Justice, And Lie To The FBI – July 22, 2020
Miami, Fl. – South Florida federal prosecutors have charged Alberico Crespo, and Jorge Diaz Gutierrez, with conspiring to distribute Oxycodone, obstruct justice, and make false statements to the FBI. Crespo is a Special Agent with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), who, during the time of the alleged crimes, worked as part of the South Florida Health Care Fraud Strike Force. Crespo allegedly used his position as an agent to both advance the drug distribution crimes and impede related federal health care fraud investigations, including investigations on which Crespo himself worked.
According to the complaint affidavit charging criminal conduct from September 2019 to June 2020, Diaz was part of an illegal Oxycodone distribution system involving patients, pharmacies, and medical clinics. Diaz allegedly recruited patients and sent them to particular medical clinics to obtain Oxycodone prescriptions that the patients did not need. Once the patients obtained the prescriptions, they would give them to Diaz in exchange for money. Diaz allegedly would fill the prescriptions at certain pharmacies and sell the Oxycodone pills to third party street dealers.
Diaz and Crespo were associates. Crespo allegedly used his position as an HHS-OIG Special Agent working on health care fraud cases to protect Diaz’s Oxycodone operation. Crespo did this by monitoring Strike Force investigations involving Diaz, accessing and disclosing sensitive law enforcement information to Diaz, updating Diaz on the progress of health care fraud investigations, and coaching Diaz on how to lie to investigators and tamper with evidence.
Former Public Works Employee And Co-Conspirator Charged With $400,000 Of Credit Card Fraud And Identity Theft – July 22, 2020
The indictment charges former City of Shreveport Public Works employee, Tory Jackson, and Jawaski Johnson, with one count of conspiracy to use an unauthorized access device and nine counts of use of an unauthorized access device. In addition, Jackson was charged with one count of aggravated identity theft.
According to the indictment, from September 2017 through October 2019, Jackson and Johnson allegedly engaged in a scheme to fraudulently purchase fuel using three Fuelman credit cards stolen from the City of Shreveport. Jackson purchased the fuel using a PIN that he did not have authorization to use; Johnson would then sell the fuel to third parties at a discounted rate. The defendants conducted over 3,800 transactions totaling approximately $400,000.
U.S. Attorney’s Office Paralegal Specialist Charged With Drug Trafficking Crimes – July 22, 2020
Jennifer Loya is charged with drug trafficking crimes, conspiring to obstruct justice and making a false statement to federal law enforcement officers. Also charged are Roland Gustamante, his wife, Kimberly Loya and Nathan Lopez.
Gustamante allegedly imported drugs from Mexico, sold them in the San Antonio area and transported proceeds back to suppliers in Mexico. Kimberly Loya served as a courier for Gustamante’s drug trafficking organization, according to the indictment, while Lopez was an associate of the Gustamante drug trafficking organization. Jennifer Loya is Kimberly’s sister.
According to the indictment, Jennifer Loya worked in the San Antonio USAO. There, she allegedly learned confidential law enforcement information related to federal drug trafficking investigations including the identity of investigation targets, cooperating witnesses and defendants as well as planned dates for charging and arresting defendants. The indictment alleges she shared this information with her sister who then relayed it to her husband. Gustamante used the information to evade law enforcement and to warn his fellow drug traffickers about impending law enforcement actions, according to the charges,
Former Raytheon Systems Engineer Sentenced To Prison For Illegally Retaining Classified Information – July 22, 2020
Ahmedelhadi Serageldin was a systems engineer at Raytheon Technologies in Massachusetts from August 1997 until he was terminated in May 2017. Serageldin had a SECRET level security clearance in order to complete his assignments on several defense contracts for the U.S. government involving military radar technology.
After Raytheon raised suspicions to federal authorities about whether Serageldin was being candid during an internal investigation of his computer usage, agents followed Serageldin to a local library where they discovered that he was researching how to delete files from his computer. During the execution of search warrants, over 3,100 electronic files and over 110 paper documents belonging to Raytheon or the Department of Defense, over 570 of which were marked as containing classified information, were recovered. The documents marked as containing classified information totaled approximately 31,000 pages in length. Court documents list five specific documents, all of which pertain to U.S. military programs involving missile defense and are classified at the SECRET level. It was also determined that Serageldin had altered or obliterated the classification markings on approximately 50 documents.
Convenience Store Employee Pleads Guilty To Defrauding Federal Food Stamp Program – July 21, 2020
According to court documents and statements made in court, Siddiq Chaudhary worked at Manchester Quick Mart. From November 2016 to January 2020, Chaudhary and others at Manchester Quick Mart illegally allowed customers to redeem their food stamp benefits for cash and other ineligible items, including gasoline and male enhancement pills. Chaudhary and others charged the customers’ food stamp cards a premium of approximately 40 percent or more for these illegal transactions.
4 Toledo City Ohio Council Members & Attorney Charged In Bribery And Extortion Scheme – July 21, 2020
4 Toledo City Council members and one local attorney have been charged for their participation in a bribery and extortion scheme that encouraged soliciting and accepting cash, checks, money orders, or other things of value from local business owners in exchange for their votes on City Council.
U.S. Postal Service Clerk Indicted For Stealing Mail And Passport Applications To Commit Bank Fraud – July 21, 2020
Jasmine Wynne, a Postal Clerk with the United States Postal Service (USPS) working at the St. Petersburg Retail Post Office location, conspired with others to defraud federally insured financial institutions. Wynne used her status and the special access she had as an USPS employee to open First-Class mail and to photograph personal identifying information (“PII”) and bank account information. Wynne then forwarded the photographs to co-conspirators for use in a bank fraud scheme. The indictment further alleges that Wynne also photographed United States Passport applications that was processed at her post office location to gain applicants’ PII and bank account information. She then forwarded that information to co-conspirators.
In addition, the indictment charges Wynne with using her position as a USPS employee to access and steal restricted postal arrow keys – special master keys that open USPS collection boxes, banks of mailboxes at apartment complexes, and any other mailbox keyed with an arrow lock. Wynne then provided the postal arrow keys to co-conspirators for use in the charged conspiracy.
Former Deputy Director Of Signal Network Enterprise Center At Fort Gordon Sentenced To Prison For Disclosure Of Confidential Information – July 21, 2020
According to information provided in court documents and proceedings, Vaughn Moffett, as deputy director of the U.S. Army Signal Network Enterprise Center (NEC) at Fort Gordon, used his access to contract bid and proposal information to assist the Communications Research, Engineering and Consultants (CREC) Group with winning a contract for upgrading the Army’s communications infrastructure at Fort Gordon in 2014. When investigators later questioned Moffett, he falsely and fraudulently denied knowing how CREC was awarded the contract.
Ohio House Speaker, Former Chair Of Ohio Republican Party, & 3 Other Charged With Corruption Racketeering Conspiracy Involving $60 Million – July 21, 2020
It is alleged that Larry Householder, 61, of Glenford, Ohio, and the enterprise conspired to violate the racketeering statute through honest services wire fraud, receipt of millions of dollars in bribes and money laundering.
According to the 80-page criminal complaint, from March 2017 to March 2020, the enterprise received millions of dollars in exchange for Householder’s and the enterprise’s help in passing House Bill 6, a billion-dollar bailout that saved two failing, Ohio nuclear power plants from closing.
In March 2017, Householder began receiving quarterly $250,000 payments from the related-energy companies into the bank account of Generation Now. The defendants allegedly spent millions of the company’s dollars to support Householder’s political bid to become Speaker, to support House candidates they believed would back Householder, and for their own personal benefit.
Four Other Individuals Were Also Arrested And Charged:
Mathew Borges – A lobbyist who previously served as chair of the Ohio Republican Party
Jeffrey Longstreth – Householder’s longtime campaign and political strategist
Neil Clark, 67 – A lobbyist who owns and operates Grant Street Consultants and previously served as budget director for the Ohio Republican Caucus
Juan Cespedes – A multi-client lobbyist.
President Of Two Labor Unions Pleads Guilty To Embezzling $57,000 From Unions July 21, 2020
According to her guilty plea, from October 2014 through September 2019, Sandra King served as president of The Federation of Police and Security (“FOPS”), formerly known as the National Union of Protective Services Association, which represents private security guards in Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, Maryland. King became president after the union’s previous president, J.C. Stamps, pleaded guilty to defrauding FOPS’s employee benefit plan.
From late 2014 to the present, King was also the president of the Alliance of Independent Workers (AIW), which represented the communication staff, mortuary staff, medical records staff, and the child fatality staff at the District of Columbia, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Like FOPS, King succeeded Stamps as president of AIW.
According to her guilty plea, from October 2014 through September 2019, while president of FOPS and AIW, King embezzled $50,939.41 from these unions–$20,368.76 from FOPS and $30,570.75 from AIW. King admitted that she used union funds for her personal benefit by writing checks to cash, making cash withdrawals at automated teller machines, and making personal purchases using the union debit card. King used union funds to purchase liquor, pay rent on her apartment, and purchase items at Target, Wal-Mart, Amazon, Apple iTunes, and at grocery stores. She also used union funds to pay for her personal life insurance and automobile insurance.
Hackers Convinced Twitter Employee To Help Them Hijack High Profile Accounts – July 15, 2020
After a wave of account takeovers, screenshots of an internal Twitter user administration tool are being shared in the hacking underground. A Twitter insider was responsible for a wave of high profile account takeovers, according to leaked screenshots obtained by Motherboard and two sources who took over accounts. High profile accounts including those of Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Uber, and Apple tweeted cryptocurrency scams in an apparent hack. “We used a rep that literally done all the work for us,” one of the sources told Motherboard. The second source added they paid the Twitter insider. Motherboard granted the sources anonymity to speak candidly about a security incident. A Twitter spokesperson told Motherboard that the company is still investigating whether the employee hijacked the accounts themselves or gave hackers access to the tool.
Twitter’s acknowledgement that a “coordinated social engineering campaign” involving multiple employees was behind a hack of prominent verified accounts raises significant questions as to whether business organizations are implementing effective security controls that limit potential insider threats’ access to back-end administrative tools.
Betrayed Citigroup Bank Assistant Vice President Embezzles $22 Million Over 7 Years As Payback For Not Paying Him Enough – June 24, 2020
A misplaced paycheck stub started it all. Gary Foster, a former assistant vice president in Citigroup’s internal treasury finance department, said the stub left next to an office printer showed that a subordinate made $10,000 more than him.
Foster stated during an interview “I was shocked. I was in love with the company. I felt completely devastated. I’m working like crazy. … I felt betrayed.”
During the next two years, Foster’s resentment against Citibank festered. Finally, he realized that he needed some payback for what he deserved.
Foster had been investigating an account of unreconciled, unclaimed money of about $772,000. The bank wanted to get the account to zero. So, Foster obliged, and he wired the money to his personal Chase account. He said Citibank generally didn’t audit anything under $1 million. His department was dealing with billions a day, so he rationalized that Citibank wouldn’t notice his embezzlement. And he was correct.
He laid low and didn’t illegally transfer funds for about a year and a half. But then he had a thought. “I realized that I could get all my goals that I wanted,” Foster said. “My favorite thing is traveling the world.”
He realized he could feed his travel hobby and provide for his kids. “Maybe, I should look at this a different way,” he said. “Maybe this is God-sent. … The narcissism ran amok. I started feeling confident.” He began wiring more cash from other accounts to his private account with required second authorizations, which were easy to get because the bank thoroughly trusted him, he said.
For the next six years or so, he quietly stole $22 million. He’d manually manipulate numbers in Excel spreadsheets for amortization and accretion and then move them to a general ledger, he said. He was able to pull off his embezzlement because he kept the numbers relatively small. And he’d steal in the middle of the month instead of the end when auditors might be more attuned.
Foster said that he was able to fool the external auditors — most of whom were inexperienced. “These young kids who come in to do the legwork … really don’t know what they’re doing. Maybe it’s their arrogance, or they’re pretending they know what’s going on,” he said. “I could just play dumb with them because if they think you’re stupid then they figure they’re running circles around you. … They won’t ask that many questions because they don’t know what to ask.” Foster emphasizes that external auditing firms need to send in experienced auditors and “not kids that just came out of school.”
Foster resigned about six months before Citibank discovered his crimes. The firm caught him because he’d violated his embezzlement rules — he wired $3 million at the end of the month. Foster said that if he’d still worked at the bank he might have been able to smooth-talk his way out of his slip-up.
In June 29, 2012, after pleading guilty in September of that year for siphoning $22 million from Citibank between 2003 and 2010, he was sentenced to eight years in prison. Foster said he served seven years and six months of his sentence, and he was released on probation in October 2019.