Showing posts with label Scams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scams. Show all posts

March 9, 2017

Oklahoma Prisoner Blackmail Scams Gay Men at the Tune of $125K



 Sean Siwek, scammer, blackmailer
 

An Oklahoma prisoner posed as an Elyria man in an elaborate scheme to blackmail gay men across the country by threatening to expose their sexuality and falsely claiming that the men had offered to have sex with minors.

The prisoner, Sean Siwek, was sentenced Tuesday to two years and three months in federal prison and ordered to repay $124,990 to various victims, according to Bob Troester, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorneys Office in the Western District of Oklahoma.

According to court documents filed in the case, Siwek was being housed at Lawton Correctional Facility, a private medium-security prison in Lawton, Okla., when he and other co-conspirators, who weren’t identified in the indictment, hatched their scheme.

Using a voice-based dating service, Siwek and others created messages that were the equivalent of personal advertisements that they used to find men across the country, including in Colorado, Maryland, Ohio and Oklahoma, prosecutors said.

Siwek and those working with him would get messages from legitimate users of the dating service and then contact them separately using illicit cell phones that had been smuggled into the prison.

Siwek would falsely tell those he got into contact with that he was a male prostitute interested in having sexual relations with men who were married or had girlfriends.

“After establishing a rapport with a legitimate user and arranging to meet for sex, Siwek or another coconspirator called that legitimate user, claiming to be a law enforcement officer, and fraudulently represented that the legitimate user had agreed to have sex with a minor, which was a crime,” the indictment in the case said. “Siwek and his coconspirators then falsely represented that they would publicize the legitimate user’s sexual orientation and bring criminal charges against him, or cause such charges to be brought, unless the legitimate user paid them.”

Prosecutors detailed how Siwek and his allies were able to convince an Ohio man to give them approximately $86,840 between October 2011 and February 2012 through the scheme.

Siwek created a profile claiming to be a 24-year-old from Elyria and ended up communicating with the Ohio man, and the two eventually arranged to meet “for a good time sexually,” prosecutors wrote.

The next day, Siwek called from the prison and claimed to be the 24-year-old man’s father but said the person who the Ohio man had been communicating with was actually 15.

Siwek demanded $500 and the Ohio man bought two debit cards and provided the information over the phone to Siwek. In a later call, Siwek told the Ohio man to expect a call from an FBI agent.

When the “agent” called, he told the victim that he had committed a crime by arranging to have sex with a minor and threatened to charge the Ohio man unless he was paid.

Over the next few months, Siwek and his co-conspirators demanded additional money, including for bribes to a fake judge and to get others to keep “quiet.”

Court records show Siwek pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and false impersonation of a federal officer two years ago. Troester said Siwek will receive credit for all the time he’s served behind bars while awaiting sentencing.


Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

November 19, 2016

Trump Settles on Suit for Trump University Rip-Off $25 Million



 Trump with Secretary of State Bundi who refuse at the time to bring charges on the University scam


Donald J. Trump has reversed course and agreed on Friday to pay $25 million to settle a series of lawsuits stemming from his defunct for-profit education venture, Trump University, finally putting to rest fraud allegations by former students, which have dogged him for years and hampered his presidential campaign.

The settlement was announced by the New York attorney general just 10 days before one of the cases, a federal class-action lawsuit in San Diego, was set to be heard by a jury. The deal averts a potentially embarrassing and highly unusual predicament: a president-elect on trial, and possibly even taking the stand in his own defense, while scrambling to build his incoming administration.

It was a remarkable concession from a real estate mogul who derides legal settlements and has mocked fellow businessmen who agree to them.

But the allegations in the case were highly unpleasant for Mr. Trump: Students paid up to $35,000 in tuition for a programs that, according to the testimony of former Trump University employees, used high-pressure sales tactics and employed unqualified instructors.

The agreement wraps together the outstanding Trump University litigation, including two federal class-action cases in San Diego, and a separate lawsuit by Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general. The complaints alleged that students were cheated out of thousands of dollars in tuition through deceptive claims about what they would learn and high-pressure sales tactics.

“I am pleased that under the terms of this settlement, every victim will receive restitution and that Donald Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a statement. “The victims of Trump University have waited years for today’s result, and I am pleased that their patience — and persistence — will be rewarded by this $25 million settlement.”

The settlement is a significant reversal from Mr. Trump, who had steadfastly rejected the allegations and vowed to fight the lawsuits, asserting that students filled out evaluations showing they were mostly happy with what they had learned in seminars. When political opponents pressed him on the claims during the campaign, Mr. Trump doubled down, saying he would eventually reopen Trump University.

“It’s something I could have settled many times,” Mr. Trump said during a debate in February. “I could settle it right now for very little money, but I don’t want to do it out of principle.”

He added, “The people that took the course all signed — most — many — many signed report cards saying it was fantastic, it was wonderful, it was beautiful.”

But the position of Mr. Trump and his legal team appeared to soften soon after his election victory on Nov. 8. At a hearing last week, Daniel Petrocelli, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, expressed interest in moving toward a settlement. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s lawyers were seeking to delay the trial in one of the California cases until after his inauguration on Jan. 20, while also requesting that he be allowed to testify on video.

At a hearing on the case in San Diego on Friday, Mr. Petrocelli said Mr. Trump had settled the case “without an acknowledgment of fault or liability.”

The judge overseeing the two California cases, Gonzalo Curiel, was thrust into the limelight of the campaign in May when Mr. Trump spent several minutes at a rally denouncing the judge’s decisions in the case, calling him a “hater” and questioning his impartiality because of his Mexican heritage.
 
After he faced days of criticism for his remarks on the judge, Mr. Trump released a statement saying his words had been “misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage.” He also asserted that he was justified in questioning the fairness of his trial, given various rulings in the case that went against him. Still, he concluded, “we will win this case!”

Judge Curiel said in court Friday that he hoped that the settlement agreement — and the end of the presidential campaign — would begin “a healing process that this country very sorely needs.”

Under the agreement, Mr. Trump will pay $21 million to settle the two California class-action suits and $4 million to settle with the New York attorney general. The lawyers for the plaintiffs waived their attorneys’ fees. The deal still has to be approved in court, which could take months.

About 7,000 students will share in the settlement, according to their lawyers. The customers will be eligible to recoup at least half of what they spent at Trump University, and some could receive a full refund, the lawyers said.

Even before he was in the throes of his presidential bid, Mr. Trump began mounting a vigorous public defense of himself and Trump University. A website, 98percentapproval.com, touted high marks it received from students. A New York Times report in March, though, showed how some students recalled being pressured to give positive reviews.

Trump University, which operated from 2004 to 2010, included free introductory seminars across the country, focusing largely on real estate investing and learning Mr. Trump’s secrets. Students could then purchase more expensive packages costing up to $35,000.

Documents made public through the litigation revealed that some former Trump University managers had given testimony about its unscrupulous and exploitative business practices. One sales executive testified that the operation was “a facade, a total lie.” Another manager called it a “fraudulent scheme.”

Other records showed how Mr. Trump had overstated the depth of his involvement in the programs. Despite claims that Mr. Trump had handpicked instructors, he acknowledged in testimony that he had not.

In addition to the financial rewards, the conclusion of the Trump University cases brings vindication to former students, mostly ordinary people across the country who felt they had been robbed of their savings by Mr. Trump, a successful businessman they respected and admired.

One student, Jeffrey Tufenkian, who enrolled with his wife to pursue a real estate career, told The New York Times in 2011 that the experience “was almost completely worthless.”

“Trump University has no interest in taking care of its customers,” said Mr. Tufenkian, who paid $35,000 for a “Gold Elite” class, which he said at the time wiped out much of his savings.
  
“While we have no doubt that Trump University would have prevailed at trial based on the merits of this case, resolution of these matters allows President-elect Trump to devote his full attention to the important issues facing our great nation,” he said in a statement.

Ciaran McEvoy contributed reporting.

February 22, 2014

Match.com Scammers Busted

Match.com Scammers Busted for Fleecing DatesSEXPAND
Six British ne’er-do-wells have been charged with scamming Match.com users in the U.K., because people are much more gullible than we could ever imagine.

Here’s how the set-up probably went down: woman logs onto Match.com and, surprise, she meets a handsome man on the dating site. Brilliant! They go out and it's awesome times at the pub and then the cinema that night. They go out a couple more times and he still rocks. Then suddenly he shares a heartbreaking story that requires her to part with a “significant” amount of money. Instead of saying no, she says yes and probably never sees said Mr. Handsome again ... until she watches the evening news on the BBC and realizes that her man of the hour was just arrested for fraud.
Detective Constable Darrin Carey, reports the Guardian, says most of the victims are from the "Basingstoke area, across Hampshire and England" and if anyone has any more information that could help catch the rest of the frauds, call him at "101."
The suspects charged with conspiracy to commit fraud are Emmanuel Oko, 29, of Waverley Grove, Southsea, Hampshire; Brooke Boston, 28, of Chelsea Road, Southsea; Monty Emu, 28, of Frencham Road, Southsea; Eberechi Ekpo, 26, of Adair Road, Southsea; Chukwuka Ugwu, 28, of Somers Road, Southsea, and Adewunmi Nusi, 26, of Bomford Close, Hermitage, Berkshire.
I’m not sure how someone would be able to justify lending more than 20 quid to a stranger they’ve just started dating — I don’t even do that in real life. Still, the crew of five men and women are now facing fraud charges following a lengthy investigation by the Detective Constable and are slated to appear in the Basingstoke magistrates court soon. So what was Match.com's response? Treat the web like a sketchy Camden pub and trust no one.
"While the authorities and dating sites work closely together to ensure a safe environment on the internet, we encourage everyone to apply the same caution when meeting people online as they would meeting through friends or in a bar. Never give money to anyone just as you would never give money to someone you recently met in a pub or cafe. Don't share personal contact details off the site. If in doubt, use the highly visible 'report a concern' button which flags issues to our care team."
Is anyone online portal sacred? Probably porn, but that’s besides the point.
Image via Match.com.

April 25, 2013

How to recognize the signs of a staged accident


Jill Overmyer
adamfoxie*
Staged accidents are a form of auto insurance fraud that usually involves knowing participants -- a car driven by a scammer hits a car full of people who are in on the scam and who pretend to be hurt. The participants then milk insurance companies for claims payments.
In some cases, however, staged accidents target innocent drivers. This can raise your auto insurance rates and cost you money, so it's important to recognize common signs of staged accidents and react accordingly.
Common staged accidents
Some of the most common staged accidents involving innocent drivers include:
  • Distraction: It's easy to get distracted while driving, and some accident stagers prey on that, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The scammer pulls in front of you, waiting until you're distracted or looking down and then slams on the brakes, causing a rear-end collision. Your insurance foots the bill.
  • Waving forward: Another scam occurs when trying to merge into traffic, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. The fraudulent driver waves you forward, then crashes into you and denies ever letting you in. Consequently, the accident almost always is deemed the innocent driver's fault.
  • Swoop and squat: Car A pulls in front of you, while Car B cuts Car A off and then speeds away. Car A slams on its brakes, causing a rear-end collision. You may try to explain that Car B was the cause of the accident, but by that time, Car B is nowhere to be found -- and your auto insurance company is left to pay for the property damage and (often fabricated) injuries of those in Car A.
Warning signs of staged accidents
Staged accidents can lead to serious injuries and even death when they go wrong. Aside from these tragic outcomes, they can wreck victims' auto insurancepremiums. If you have an at-fault accident on your record, your insurance company will consider you a bigger risk and raise your premiums accordingly.
Here are some ways to fight back, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud and the Insurance Information Institute.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Many staged accidents bank on you being distracted. Avoid tailgating, and watch the cars around you.
  • Count the number of passengers in the other car. Many staged accident scams rely on "phantom" passengers and claims filed in their names. Record names and license numbers as well.
  • Always call the police. Even fender-benders should be reported.
  • Keep a close eye on the passengers. If they seem fine and then act injured when the police arrive, be wary.
  • Keep a camera handy in your car. Take pictures of the other car and passengers.Certain demographics are more susceptible to becoming victims of staged accidents. Women and the elderly are more likely to be targeted, as they're generally less likely to question whether fraud has occurred.

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