7-11 clerks busted in alleged $82,000 lottery scam

SAN ANTONIO – Two gas station clerks are in hot water, accused of stealing thousands of dollars in a fake lottery scam.

Police said two employees at a northeast-side 7-11 cashed out thousands of dollars in lottery tickets. The only problem? They were all fake.

Derreain Cosby, 31, and Sarah Ramirez, 28, were arrested Tuesday night on theft charges.

According to arrest warrants, the two clerks at the Interstate 35 and Eisenhauer 7-11 cashed out more than $82,000 in fake lottery tickets.

Investigators said each time they would pretend a customer came in with a winning lottery ticket and they would pocket the money.

Police said this happened daily over a period of five months before a manager caught on.

Investigators said they also have video surveillance of the two in action.

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Financial Fraud

The Hair Show That Never Was
Two criminals were sentenced for a scheme that involved enlisting young women at shopping malls and other places to participate in a “hair show,” gaining access to their bank accounts, depositing phony checks in the accounts, and withdrawing funds before the banks realized the fraud.

Tamira Fonville’s job might be described as “recruiter.” For a time, she profited substantially by enlisting college-age women to participate in a hair show. The problem was, there never was any show, and everything about Fonville’s line of work was a fraud.

She and her partner—both of whom are now in prison—regularly traveled the Interstate 95 corridor from New York to Washington, D.C., visiting shopping malls and other places where young women were known to spend time.

Using a series of phony names, Fonville would interest the women in the hair show, offering to pay for their services. But to pay them, she said, she needed their debit card numbers and access to their accounts.

With that access, she would not simply clean out their accounts. Instead, her partner and mastermind of the scam, Ricardo Falana, would deposit bogus checks into the legitimate accounts, and then immediately begin withdrawing funds before the bank realized the fraud.

“It was a crazy, hit or miss scheme,” said Special Agent Sean Norman, who investigated the case from the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “But they did it at such a high volume that they made a lot of money for several years. There was approximately $600,000 in actual losses to banks and other financial institutions.”

On a typical recruiting trip, Fonville might talk with 20 or 30 women and would follow up with text messages using disposable phones whose numbers could not be traced. If she ended up with three or four willing participants, that was enough.

“Some took the hair show bait and handed over their debit cards and PINs,” Norman said. “Others who were skeptical got a different pitch,” he explained. “They were told: ‘I can make money appear in your account. You will get some money, I will get some money, and the bank won’t lose anything.’”

With access to legitimate accounts not tied to him, Falana deposited forged checks of up to $10,000 and then withdrew money before the bank realized the checks were bad. Many of the victims were coached to tell bank investigators that their debit cards had been stolen and their PINs were written on the cards.

“The majority of the account holders knew they were doing something fraudulent,” Norman said. “They thought they were going to get something out of it, but they got nothing.”

For a time, the money rolled in, and Fonville “got addicted to the lifestyle,” Norman said. According to court documents, between 2008 and 2013, Fonville personally benefited from the scheme to the tune of more than $230,000. She used some of the proceeds to pay for plastic surgery, the car loan on her $30,000 Chevrolet Camaro, and the $2,100 monthly rent on her New York apartment. She would later tell investigators she viewed the scam as a career.

Fonville also fraudulently obtained food stamps, Medicaid, and benefits from a New York child care program, and she received deferments on almost $100,000 in student loans because she claimed she had no income. But then she lied on her car loan application, stating she was an employee of Mesa Airlines and had a salary of $65,000 per year.

Eventually, some of the women whose accounts had been used came forward and told the truth. Norman was able to trace withdrawn funds to Fonville and Falana, and Falana was identified on surveillance video depositing what turned out to be bogus checks. Norman also used E-ZPass toll receipts to link the pair’s recruiting trips to account holders and subsequent fraudulent transactions on their accounts.

“After the pieces all fit together,” said Norman, who is a certified public account and specializes in financial fraud investigations, “their actions were highly predictable.”

Fonville was arrested in August 2014. She pled guilty the following month to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of bank fraud and was sentenced in April to 15 months in prison. Falana pled guilty to similar bank fraud charges in October 2014 and in February received an 80-month sentence.

In the end, Norman said, “they blew all the money and had nothing to show for it.”

Resources:
- Press release

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12 Alleged Gang Members Charged in Fake Money Order Scheme

Twelve alleged gang members face fraud, aggravated identity theft and other charges in connection with a federal indictment accusing them in a money order scheme at banks in the New York area and along the East Coast, authorities said Tuesday.

Eight of the 12 suspects were arrested early Tuesday during a raid at the Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville by Department of Homeland Security agents, U.S. Postal Inspectors and NYPD, officials say.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the case suggests that “members of street gangs, like the Van Dyke Money Gang, have expanded their criminal repertoire to include white collar crimes like bank fraud and identity theft.”

“Today’s arrests dismantle a gang that allegedly used bank fraud and identity theft to line their pockets with cash using a scheme that cost New York banks over $1.5 million dollars,” HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Raymond J. Parmer Jr. added in a press release.

According to the indictment, the defendants fraudulently obtained blank postal and Western Union money orders and printed a specific dollar amount, usually under $1,000 on them. They allegedly recruited bank account holders and used their accounts to deposit the fake orders.

The defendants, allegedly members of the Van Dyke Money Gang, then withdrew the money from those accounts; they used more than 350 accounts for those purposes, the indictment alleges.

The scheme defrauded New York-area banks, as well as ones along the East Coast from Boston to Washington, D.C., out more than $1 million, authorities said.

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Georgia woman lands three years in federal prison for embezzling $500,000

The former office manager of Bec-Don Inc. was sentenced to serve three years and one month in federal prison for committing wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud the Ringgold, Ga.-based company.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Judy Elaine Henry, 50, of Lafayette, Ga., was the manager of Bec-Don’s office and was authorized to sign checks on Bec-Don’s account. From approximately 2006 through 2014, Henry embezzled more than $500,000 in company funds by writing checks payable to herself from Bec-Don’s account, and by making false entries in Bec-Don’s checkbook and accounting records to make it appear that the checks had been issued to pay legitimate company expenses.

Henry deposited some of the fraudulent checks into her personal account and then used her debit card to spend the stolen money.

Henry was sentenced to three years, one month in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $565,005.05. Henry was convicted on these charges on April 23 after she pleaded guilty.

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After 42 years on the run, North Carolina escapee captured in Franklin Co.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) – A Franklin County man who escaped a North Carolina prison in 1972 turned himself into Kentucky authorities Monday after being on the run for more than four decades.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton confirmed Monday night the man who identified himself as Clarence David Moore is the same person identified by North Carolina Department of Public Safety records as escapee David Edward Moore.

Moore, 66, called the sheriff’s office around 4 p.m. to turn himself in, Melton said.

“I need to make this right and get through this,” the sheriff recalled Moore saying.

Melton said deputies took Moore to the Frankfort Regional Medical Center to be checked out before transferring him to the Franklin County Jail.

According to North Carolina Department of Public Safety prison records, Moore had been convicted of larceny in July 1967 and was 23 at the time of the reported escape from the former Polk Youth Institute in Butner, North Carolina on June 10, 1972.

The records show he was originally scheduled to be released from the facility June 1, 1978.

During his time on the run, Melton said, Moore was involved in a 2009 car accident in Franklin County but did not have any identification to verify his identity, allowing him to evade capture.

Melton said, as a result of now learning his true identity, deputies obtained a contempt of court arrest warrant in connection to that wreck.

Melton said Moore would be arraigned in court Tuesday morning. It’s unclear whether the existing escape charge would supersede the local charge.

“If he agrees to be extradited willingly, our extradition office will make arrangements to have him returned to NC to serve the remainder of his sentence,” North Carolina Department of Public Safety Spokesperson Keith Acree said in an email, “If he fights extradition, then a more complicated legal process begins to get him returned to NC.”

When calculated, there have been 15,654 days between Moore’s escape and capture.

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$600K worth of cocaine washes up on Destin beach

DESTIN, FL (WSFA) – A bale of cocaine worth $600,000 washed up on a beach in Destin, FL, over the weekend, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

Beach safety personnel found the drugs in the surf behind a condominium complex on the Gulf of Mexico around 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

The 21 kilos of cocaine was packaged into bricks and labeled “Adidas,” according to authorities.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information to call 850-651-7400 or contact Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers at 850-863-TIPS, emeraldcoastcrimestoppers.com, or Text “Tip214 plus your message” to CRIMES 274637.

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Public Corruption FBI Agent Helps Protect His Native American Community

When Special Agent Jeff Youngblood helped convict a corrupt public official from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma last year who was demanding bribes and kickbacks from contractors bidding on tribal construction projects, he felt more satisfaction than usual bringing a criminal to justice.

That’s because Youngblood is Native American and a member of the Choctaw tribe.

“My dad was born and raised in this area, and Oklahoma is where I was born and raised,” said Youngblood, who is assigned to the FBI’s Oklahoma City Division and works in the southeastern part of the state that is home to the Choctaw Nation.

“There aren’t many Native Americans who are special agents,” he said, “and I have yet to meet any that are working in Indian Country and are enrolled members of the tribe where they work. I think mine is a unique situation.”

It’s a situation Youngblood embraces. The Durant Resident Agency, where he is stationed with one other agent, has responsibility for a six-county area that covers much of the Choctaw Nation.

With a large casino resort complex in Durant—located only an hour’s drive from Dallas, Texas—the tribe is a major economic driver in the region, and many residents depend on it for their livelihood.

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PHONE SCAMS ON THE RISE AS TAX DEADLINE LOOMS

CHICAGO (WLS) — A warning for taxpayers as tax day approaches: Some scam artists are using phone calls to try and take your money.

Thousands of complaints are pouring into government offices just days before the April 15 tax deadline.

The Federal Trade Commission says it gets about 10,000 complaints a month – and that’s just one agency.

The IRS fraudsters are using spoofing technology and blocked calls to steal your money. But there are ways to catch the person on the other line.

A viewer recorded and shared a scam call with the ABC 7 I-Team; it’s one of thousands of IRS scam calls hitting the Chicago area and nationwide. During the call, a woman demands money after claiming that back taxes were owed. Consumer protection groups say it’s getting worse during tax season.

“I got a blocked call from someone who was claiming to be the IRS and was talking to me trying to get me to pay him some money over the phone and was threatening me that if I did not pay it, they would press charges. And I would be arrested,” said Mordy Siegal, who received the call.

Siegal says he used technology from a service called Trap Call to uncover his blocked number and prove that the fake IRS call was coming from New Jersey.

“He told me he was out of Cleveland and the call was coming out of New Jersey so I knew it was a fraud,” Siegal said.

A Trap Call basic plan will run you $4.95 a month. There are also other technologies that advertise similar, free services.

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Panama City Beach Clubs Confiscate Hundreds of Fake IDs Every Night

PANAMA CITY BEACH– Every year thousands of spring breakers come to Panama City Beach to party at the clubs and bars, and every year, thousands of fake IDs are taken away. In fact, Club La Vela confiscates more fake IDs than any other nightclub in Florida. Newschannel 7′s Kelly Baumgarten sat down with the La Vela security team earlier today and found out how to tell a real ID from a fake.

Fake IDs are not new. Teens across the country spend big bucks to get their hands on a phony drivers license, but during spring break in Panama City Beach, security crews for clubs seize hundreds every night.

“Every person that comes up the door if we take their ID from them they wanna argue about it and say it’s real and it’s them and then we end up having to get law enforcement involved,” said Paul Winterman, Director of Customer Service at Club La Vela.

These are just some of the fake IDs that Club La Vela has confiscated in the past few weeks. In fact, club employees estimate that in the month of March alone they’ve confiscated more than 2000 fake IDs.

“It’s a big club sometimes you’ve got 4000 people coming through the door and everybody tries to use a fake ID and drink in the club,” said Winterman

Paul Winterman has been working on La Vela’s security team for 16 years and he’s also a former detective. He says there are a lot of ways to spot a fake.

“You can tell by holograms anything that sells seal of authenticity or has a key on it its fake”

Members of La Vela’s security team say if you bend an id and it creases, it’s almost always a fake.

“They get the holograms right, but they don’t get the glue right. The font’s never correct, the color’s always wrong. Kids are paying for them online they’re buying $120 $130 for two of them and we tend to spot them in the first 30 seconds,” said Philip Trivett, head of security at Club La Vela.

But Winterman says identifying a phony id doesn’t come easy to everyone.

“A lot of people will want to work the door, but when it comes down to it there’s a knack to it. Some people got the knack to catch the IDs, some people don’t. So we go through a lot of people training and end up having to put them in other positions other than the door because they’re not capable of doing the job.”

La Vela employees say officers with the Division of Florida Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco are on site 60% of the time during spring break. If the club spots a fake ID, the ABT will fine the person because it’s spring break. Any other time, possession of a fake ID would be a felony,

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FTC, Law Enforcement Partners Crackdown on Fraud in Auto Sales

The Federal Trade Commission and 32 law enforcement partners today announced the results of Operation Ruse Control, a nationwide and cross-border crackdown to protect consumers when purchasing or leasing a car, encompassing 252 enforcement actions. The six new FTC cases include more than $2.6 million in monetary judgments.

There were 187 enforcement actions in the United States since the agency’s last sweep, and 65 actions in Ontario and British Columbia, Canada. Enforcement efforts by the FTC, United States Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Alabama and other partners at the federal, state and local level in the U.S. and Canada include both civil and criminal charges of deceptive advertising, automotive loan application fraud, odometer fraud, deceptive add-on fees, and deceptive marketing of car title loans.

“For most people, buying a car is one of the largest purchases they’ll make,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Car ads must be truthful, loan terms must be clear, and dealer practices must be honest. That’s why our partners are working together to crack down on deceptive marketing about car sales, leasing and financing.”

“Growing fraud and other deceptive practices in auto sales and financing are important issues affecting consumers when they are buying a vehicle,” said Joyce White Vance, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. “My office has worked closely with the FTC on this issue, and has prosecuted criminal cases at a Birmingham dealership. The Mortgage, Loan Fraud and Discrimination Working Group of the Attorney General’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force also is working with other law enforcement agencies to determine what we can do now to prevent fraud during the auto lending process.”

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