FBI: telephone fraud from Mexico stole $ 10.5 million from more than 100 people in the US and Canada

Martín Alonso Aceves Custodio is designated as the chief or "executive director" of a band that defrauded more than 100 people in the United States, Canada and South America.

This “sophisticated” fraudulent scheme related to the sale of timeshare operated somewhere in Mexico pretending to be a legitimate company with offices in the United States. Most of his American victims are 60 years old or older.

In June 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) received a complaint from a couple who claimed they had stolen $ 540,000 through the sale of their timeshare in Mexico. The agency continued to receive similar complaints to add more than 100 victims in the United States, Canada, and South America, which allege they lost more than $ 10.5 million.

This week, after accumulating evidence over 15 months, the Department of Justice (DOJ) decided to file multiple charges against six Mexicans who from their country participated in a fraudulent telemarketing scheme that left many people in the Americas without savings.

The indictment filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office mentions Martín Alonso Aceves Custodio, alias ‘Robin Birmingham’, as the leader of this criminal gang that operated from somewhere in Mexico. Five of his countrymen helped him to defraud his “clients” since January 2016.

They called timeshare owners in Mexico to offer their services selling their vacation packages. They presented themselves as representatives of two fake companies, Planet Travel, and Newport International Investments.

Not only did they tell them that they had offices in the US, but that their calls indicated area codes of this country and they had internet pages “that looked professional” to show themselves as a legitimate business.

An FBI investigation found that these criminals also covered their backs in their country. There they presented themselves as sellers of the Destinations México company, offered jobs in a public way and operated under an organization chart that defined each function: director, sales managers, administrator, accountant, supervisors, vendors and contract assistants.

When federal officials spied on their operations they found breakdowns of commissions and salaries that each of the accomplices received, as well as conversations about income for thousands of dollars after robbing their victims.

The FBI considers it a “sophisticated fraud scheme” that worked for three or four years.

While they sent charges to those affected through emails, faxes, and letters, they were led to believe that they had already been interested in buying their vacation packages to steal them even more.

“There were no interested buyers, sales closures did not occur and timeshare was not resold. Instead, the conspirators simply pocketed the anticipated rates, ”says the federal indictment.

At least 55 victims are Americans and the vast majority are 60 or older. In total, this criminal cell earned more than 10.5 million dollars. These fraudsters asked their victims to send money to accounts in the HSBC, BBVA Bancomer, and Santander banks, with branches in Mexico.

The court complaint cites the case of a couple who in June 2018 reported to the FBI office in New Orleans that he had lost about $ 540,000. A month later, another couple complained that $ 291,000 was stolen by promising to sell their timeshare at the luxurious Mayan Palace hotel in Nuevo Vallarta, in western Mexico.

The chief or “executive director” of the criminal organization, Martín Alonso Aceves Custodio, appears in accounting books that the FBI now presents as evidence of the crime. One mentions that he received a “gross commission” of $ 248,156. This man registered his “company” with the Tax Administration Service (SAT) with an address in Los Cabos, in Baja California Sur.

His accomplices are Liza Flanery Fierro, aka ‘Lie’; Claudia Elena Antillón Zahuita, nicknamed ‘Julie Bautista’; Sergio León Kuri; Jesus Adrián Ledesma Bernal; and Julio César Rivera Rojas.

If convicted, these Mexicans would face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $ 250,000 and three years of supervised release.

Authorities have not disclosed where these suspects are. It is also unclear how they obtained the phones and information from the timeshare owners who cheated.

Source: univision

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