Archive for the tag 'fraud'

Source: wmfawmfa/Flickr

Area resident Petr Murmylyuk was sentenced to 30 months in prison for conspiring to hack into retail brokerage accounts and execute sham trades, the U.S. Attorney announced on Friday.

Murmylyuk, who also went by the name Dmitry Tokar, pleaded guilty in July 2013 to charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He had previously pleaded guilty to charges of identity theft and tax fraud for a separate but related scheme.

According to prosecutors, Murmylyuk admitted to his role in conspiring to steal from online trading accounts at Scottrade, E*Trade, Fidelity and others wit the aid of foreign nations visiting, studying and living in the United States.

Here’s how the scheme went down, according to prosecutors:

Members of the conspiracy first gained unauthorized access to the online accounts of brokerage firm customers. The conspirators then used stolen identities to open additional accounts – referred to in the Information as “Profit Accounts” – at other brokerage houses. They then caused the victims’ accounts to make unprofitable and illogical securities trades with the Profit Accounts, leading to losses in the victims’ accounts and gains in the Profit Accounts. One version of the fraud involved causing the victims’ accounts to sell options contracts to the Profit Accounts, then to purchase the same contracts back minutes later for many times the price.

The members of the conspiracy recruited foreign nationals visiting, studying, and living in the United States to open bank accounts into which illegal proceeds could be deposited. The conspirators then caused the proceeds of the sham trades to be transferred from the Profit Accounts into those accounts, where the stolen money could be withdrawn.

In addition to the prison term, Murmylyuk is ordered to serve three years of supervised release, and pay restitution of $505,357.79.

mossad

Yehuda Sadok (Source: LinkedIn)

It seems a Manhattan widow should have taken a cue from the theme song of the 1960s television show, Secret Agent: “Beware of pretty faces that you find. / A pretty face can hide an evil mind.”

Except his face ain’t all that pretty. But, according to the now deceased widow’s daughter, it hid a mind evil enough to nearly dupe the vulnerable woman and her family out of $20 million, and sparked a change in her will that caused her daughters to lose their inheritance.

Brighton Beach resident Yehuda Sadok, 48, is accused in a lawsuit filed by the widow’s daughters of posing as an Israeli spy who pals around with Vladimir Putin and Robert De Niro. The purpose, they say, was to get the widow, Emilie Martin, to hand over $20 million in jewelry for a deal with a Saudi sheikh.

From the Daily News:

Using the name Oody Geffen, Sadok “convinced my mother that he is a former intelligence officer from Mossad (the Israeli Secret Service), keeps a cyanide capsule in his mouth, has a close personal connection to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the Israeli Prime Minister, and is a friend of film actor Robert De Niro,” DiFabrizio said in court papers.

… Oody — who also claimed to be a movie producer — convinced Martin in the fall of 2009 to let him sell her jewelry in Dubai, telling her she should hand over $20 million in inventory from her business so he could have a “private sale” for Sheikh Mohammed, his family and friends, according to court papers.

He convinced Martin they’d use the profits to buy “a fancy condominium in Abu Dhabi where they would live happily ever after,” court filings say.

According to DNAinfo, that deal came on the heels of another one, in which Sadok had successfully pursuaded Martin to sell $1.4 million in jewelry to a company serving as an agent of the Sheikh of Dubai. The daughters say Sadok took home a $420,000 commission on the deal, even though the business lost $170,000.

Ultimately, the daughters, who own a portion of the business, successfully stopped the $20 million Saudi jewelry deal in court in 2009. The elder Martin died in 2011, but as a result of the bad blood caused by the deal, the daughters say, they’ve been cut out of the will and her estate has been split up between the mother’s estranged siblings.

The current lawsuit seeks to get the existing will tossed out of court, saying that it was written up under “an insane delusion.”

Sadok said the daughters have got the story all wrong, and that his relationship with Martin was nothing more than a close friendship.

Sadok, a married father of six, told DNAinfo New York on Friday that he was a close friend to Emilie but never claimed to be a spy or have famous friends.

“Robert De Niro, Mossad, who says something like that?” Sadok asked. “I never met Robert De Niro in my life.”

When asked how he met Emilie, Sadok said that a former FBI agent had introduced him to her. Sadok said he was helping the FBI agent retrieve jewels for Emilie.

Sadok also said that he had a platonic friendship with Emilie and that his whole family, including his mother, got to know her.

“I heard all these stories. I’ll be honest with you. Does it make any sense? I think it’s very silly to say something like that,” Sadok said when asked if he tried to romance Emilie.

hockejos

There are at least a dozen cameras between these houses.

John Hockenjos successfully won his freedom after fighting a false arrest in 2011, but he remains mired in a legal battle that threatens to see his property turned over to what he says is an unscrupulous developer. This month, a Queens-based state senator joined the battle, saying Hockenjos is another in a long line of victims of malfeasance and incompetence at the Department of Buildings.

Hockenjos and his wife, Irina, have been fighting with their East 23rd Street neighbors Elen and Argo Paumere since June 2009, when the Paumeres purchased the home next to them with plans for an ambitious overhaul. According to the Hockenjoses, red flags flew fast when they were approached to sign documents turning over a two-foot easement to their new neighbor.

They didn’t sign, and that triggered an all-out war between property owners, according to the Hockenjoses, which includes allegations of physical violence, corruption and even involvement in the false arrest. It has also cost them their jobs, their health, and more than $150,000 in legal fees, they say.

“We’re jobless. We’re money-less. Our health was destroyed tremendously. We lost our reputation,” Irina Hockenjos told Sheepshead Bites. “[The neighbors say] we’re criminals in all kind of ways. We’ve sued them in civil court because they’ve said we’re insane, and that John is a Russian mobster and he walks naked in the street.”

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via Daily News

Irina Shelikhova

The 50-year-old leader of a massive $77 million Medicare fraud ring in Southern Brooklyn was sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $36,241,545 to the government on Tuesday, announced United States Attorney Loretta Lynch.

Irina Shelikhova was busted at John F. Kennedy airport in June 2012, where she arrived after living on the lam in the Ukraine for two years. After serving her 15-year sentence, followed by three years of supervised release while excluded from Medicare, Medicaid and all federal health programs, she faces deportation.

The bust was a part of a nationwide sweep that was the biggest Medicare fraud bust in American history. Ninety-four people in total were arrested. One of the top prizes for authorities was the break-up of the Shelikhova ring, in which 13 people have been convicted so far.

“Irina Shelikova used fake doctors and forged documents to defraud Medicare out of millions of dollars of very real money. As the owner and operator of three medical clinics, Shelikova engaged in a brazen scheme of fraudulent billing and kickbacks, going so far as to pay kickbacks to elderly patients in exchange for their Medicare numbers and their silence. She relied upon her web of payoffs, kickbacks, and Russian propaganda to support her criminal scheme, but the truth caught up with her and justice has now been served,” said Lynch in a press release.

Shelikhova owned and operated Bay Medical Care, at 8686 Bay Parkway in Bath Beach, which billed Medicare under three different corporate names – Bay Medical Care, Wellcare Medical, and SZS Medical Care.

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Honoring real survivors at a Holocaust Memorial Park ceremony. Photo by Erica Sherman

The ringleader of a $57.3 million fraud scheme that siphoned money from of a Holocaust reparations fund was sentenced to eight years behind bars yesterday, announced United States Attorney Preet Bharara.

Semen Domnitser played a pivotal role in the scheme, prosecutors say, having worked as a caseworker and program director that processed the fraudulent applications in return for kickbacks. Domnitser gave his seal of approval to ineligible recipients, many of whom were born after World War II and at least one that was not even Jewish.

In addition to eight years in prison, Domnitser was sentenced to three years of supervised release, ordered to forfeit $59,230 and pay restitution in the amount of $57.3 million.

“As the highest ranking insider to participate in this despicable fraud against the Holocaust Claims Conference, Mr. Domnitser played an integral role in the scheme by processing fraudulent applications to the Conference and turning a profit of thousands of dollars for himself,” said Bharara in a press release. “With today’s sentence, he will be held to account for victimizing Holocaust survivors by diverting funds meant to help them to his own pocket and contributing to this $57 million scheme.”

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Source: Google Maps

The home on Ford Street that Joseph McClam claimed he lived in. (Source: Google Maps)

Federal agents busted an alleged fraudster on charges of stealing thousands in relief funds from FEMA when he falsely claimed to have lived in Sheepshead Bay when Superstorm Sandy struck last year. According to the criminal complaint, Joseph McClam said he was living at 2798 Ford Street when Sandy rolled through, when he had actually been been living in North Carolina.

McClam, 52, collected more than $32,000 from the government by claiming that the Ford Street home was his primary residence and suffered damage from Sandy. According to investigators, though, McClam, who owned the Ford Street residence, rented the building to various tenants until a fire heavily damaged the structure in 2010, leaving the building uninhabited and in a state of disrepair for more than two years before Sandy. Now living in North Carolina, he allegedly set up a fake New York mailing address when filing claims with the FEMA website for the purposes of soliciting relief funds.

Following an initial FEMA inspection, during which McClam was present, McClam received the maximum payout possible, $29,952 for home repair and $2,948 for rental assistance. According to prosecutors, McClam told FEMA inspectors that he had been living in the basement apartment of the structure while it was being renovated. But, prosecutors say, McClam hadn’t paid his water bill since 2009 and hadn’t had a Con Edison electric account open for the building since the fire struck in 2010 – making it an unlikely residence.

Secondary residences affected by Superstorm Sandy are not entitled to FEMA grants. Instead they are categorized as a business by the government, and homeowners were instructed to apply for Small Business Administration loans to cover the repair.

According to a Daily News report, McClam is a singer in a Motown cover band and was released on $50,000 bail. His lawyer provided no comment following his release.

Yeah, screw Canada. (Source: mezzoblue/Flickr)

BETWEEN THE LINES: In conjunction with occasional Sheepshead Bites postings of Crime Prevention Tips from the NYPD’s 61st Precinct, here’s my tale of identity theft.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Whoever said it was wisely precautious and I nearly found out how accurate that phrase is.

Someone with my fundamental awareness of ID theft tricks, telemarketing and sweepstakes scams and other forms of electronic exploitation, as well as a prior victimization, should never fall for a second scam. But, to paraphrase that insufferable pop song — oops, I almost did it again.

Nonetheless, anxiety, and an opportunity for supplemental income, almost led me into a fraudulent business relationship. Before I made any commitment or revealed too much personal information, I realized it was a rip off-in-progress, parallel to the notorious Nigerian money transfer scam. Ultimately, common sense, a little savvy, and advice from a friend triggered internal red flags and taught me an indispensable lesson without any loss.

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Council candidate Ari Kagan

Ari Kagan

Following our report last week about potential voter suppression in the 48th Councilmanic District primary, in which a defeated Ari Kagan suggested Democratic candidate Igor Oberman had undermined the Russian-American vote in order to benefit Republican David Storobin, Kagan has now self-published a roster of allegations against the duo, claiming their negative tactics contributed to his narrow defeat to Chaim Deutsch.

Here’s the cliff notes, with some notes from us in italics. It’s broken up into three part – allegations about Oberman’s campaigning, allegations about his association with Storobin, and complaints about anonymous attacks which he loosely ties to Oberman and Storobin:

Oberman’s negative campaign:

  • Oberman spent most of his time, effort and money “to attack” Kagan
  • Oberman produced a “disgusting” TV commercial saying he accepted $200,000 from Manhattan developers to destroy affordable housing an rent regulations. A “Secret Mission” mailer went out with the same. (A developer-backed PAC spent about that much trying to influence this election in favor of Kagan, which surely is fair game for criticism. However, Kagan didn’t “accept” any money, nor could he coordinate with the PAC, making the claim a little deceptive. From what we’re hearing in multiple campaigns, the PAC backed candidates supported by the county Democratic club and did not actually evaluate their candidates)
  • Oberman booked a radio commercial saying a “journalist cannot run for City Council – only a lawyer can.” (This is the first we’ve heard of this. Can anyone confirm?)
  • Oberman sent a mailer claiming Kagan was part of the Communist Party. (That happened. And Kagan was part of the Communist Party. Which, I think, is kind of a prerequisite to being politically active in a communist system, no?)
  • Oberman said that Kagan never denied the allegations that he was once a KGB agent. (Kagan claims he did, and points out that as an aide to Congressman McMahon he needed to pass a security clearance.)

Oberman – Storobin connection

  • Oberman is a “close social friend” with Storobin (Storobin denied this to Sheepshead Bites, saying they’ve never been to each other’s birthday parties.)
  • Storobin made claims that Kagan was incompetant, lazy, solicited bribes, and “I have no brain.” According to Kagan, these claims were repeated by Oberman. (We have not seen materials to back this up.)
  • “On September 9, 2013, at 3 p.m. they came together to Brighton 6 Street building to criticize me there.”
  • A previous employee of a Storobin campaign distributed palm cards for Oberman near the Shorefront Y on election day.
  • Both repeated accusations against me almost verbatim at their radio appearances.

Anonymous activities

  • There were four separate robo-call campaigns with a female voice saying, in Russian, “Don’t vote Kagan, he was a KGB agent.” (I don’t know about four calls, but we did hear these calls went out.
  • There was an anonymous literature drop in Brighton Beach saying that Kagan never worked a full-time job and “no elected officials wanted to hire me.” Kagan says this was likely done by Storobin, who had previously made the same attack against him. He also pointed out that he was offered full-time work for Comptroller Liu, but turned it down. (We can’t verify that.)
  • Other attacks made by Storobin also appeared in anonymous Russian language fliers.
  • An anonymous robo-call went out on Rosh Hashanah purporting to be from the Kagan campaign with the goal of putting off Jewish voters.
  • A flier was distributed with photos of Kagan with Senator Eric Adams and Coney Island activist Sophia Williams, both African American, with Russian text that said, “Don’t vote for Ari Kagan! He is supported by Obama socialists!” Kagan described this as “racist.”
  • Postcards were mailed telling voters in Russian that their poll site had changed to a non-existent location.

Here’s how Kagan sums the whole things up: “The bottom line is simple – attacks by Mr. Oberman and Mr. Storobin as well as anonymous calls, flyers and fake post cards played an important role in my defeat.”

Why?

“Their goal was clear – to prevent me from winning the Democratic nomination, so Mr. Storobin would run against non-Russian in a heavily Russian district.”

These are some pretty intense allegations. But, at the moment, the evidence is only circumstantial.

We look forward to seeing some hard proof of who was behind some of the more despicable acts, like the apparent attempt at voter suppression.

One of the false poll site change postcards sent out to Russian speaking voters, according to Ari Kagan.

One of the false poll site change postcards sent out to Russian speaking voters, according to Ari Kagan.

Ari Kagan, who narrowly lost his bid for the Democratic nod during last week’s primary, is alleging that dirty campaigning from a rival candidate and an anonymous trickster helped bring down his candidacy, and has offered up evidence that suggests an effort to suppress the Russian vote in the 48th District.

According to Kagan, thousands of Russian-language postcards went out to voters of the 48th District, telling them that their poll site had been changed to a non-existent poll site in another district. Kagan said he found out about the dirty trick the night before the primaries as phone calls from supporters began trickling in to his campaign office as well as to his radio show on Davidzon Radio. He has since collected several dozen of them and supplied a copy of the one above to Sheepshead Bites.

It reads:

Information for election
Announcement
Change location of your election site
Your new:
Co-op 2475 West 16th Street

The location given is actually in the 47th District, and there is no poll site there. Some voters as far away as Avenue O in Midwood received these, and all were in Russian language. They were sent from a Manhattan post office.

Now, Kagan is demanding the authorities look into the matter.

“It needs investigation. It’s a federal crime. We’re not talking about five people, 10 people. I realized how big a crime it was when people began calling me, my friends, my campaign office asking about their polling site,” he said, noting that he tried to minimize the damage by doing a robocall and a segment on his radio show informing voters that cards had gone out with false poll site information.

Kagan was not alone in his outrage.

“It’s absolutely reprehensible and I condemn any effort to intentionally mislead voters. We have to encourage people to be involved in the political process,” said Chaim Deutsch, who won Tuesday’s primary.

“This act was a violation of everything we hold dear in our country,” added Theresa Scavo, who finished in third. “Whoever did this criminal act took away certain individuals’ right to vote and may have caused an upset in the election process. The potential voters could have been on their way to vote for any of the candidates on the slate, maybe me. There should be a thorough investigation and justice must be served.”

The postcards lack a return address and any identifying information, so they’ll be hard to trace back to a source.

Kagan, though, said he suspects his fellow Russian-American candidate, Igor Oberman.

“I suspect it was the campaign that focused during the last week totally on me and not on the district. I suspect the campaign that was the dirtiest in all my memory. That would be Igor Oberman, who ran a divisive, nasty, dirty campaign,” Kagan told Sheepshead Bites. “But this is a suspicion, I have to prove it.”

When asked for comment about the postcards and Kagan’s allegations, Oberman’s campaign offered the following statement: “Neither the campaign nor Igor Oberman have any knowledge of voter suppression tactics of any kind used during the Primary Campaign in the 48th District City Council race.”

Kagan said he believes it’s Oberman because Oberman is the only campaign that went negative, and focused all of its attack ads on Kagan and no other candidate. He cited the CFB complaints we previously reported on, as well as misleading ads taken out by the Oberman campaign alleging Kagan would eliminate Section 8 housing and rent stabilization. He said Oberman booked no such attack ads against other candidates in the race, and none of the other candidates had negative ads at all.

While it would appear that a suppression of Russian-American voters would hurt Oberman as much as Kagan, however, Kagan pointed out that Russians appear to have voted for Kagan over Oberman at a rate of five to one. He suspects that Oberman’s campaign was not aiming to be victorious, but rather to keep a Russian-speaking candidate off the Democratic ballot in order to benefit Republican candidate David Storobin, who Kagan said Oberman is friends with.

The allegation echoes that recently made by Councilman Lew Fidler, who claimed Oberman was a “mole” for Storobin, and had passed the Republican details of Fidler’s campaign strategy while volunteering for him during the 2012 special election in which Storobin and Fidler faced off.

Oberman declined to respond to the charge, but Storobin dismissed it outright.

“That’s completely false. It’s preposterous on so many fronts. First of all, I wish I was that charismatic to get them to throw themselves under the bus for me, but I don’t think I am,” he said. “I think the logical suggestion is that it would be one of the non-Russian candidates in the race, because it’s targeting Russian votes.”

He added that he and Oberman are not friends, but merely friendly acquaintances, although he did not account for why the Democrat contributed to his recent State Senate campaign.

He also said Oberman’s campaign did not bare the marks of one that was attempting to split the Russian vote, with the candidate having focused his spending on younger Russians and non-Russians, rather than the elderly Russians that comprise Kagan’s base.

“You can follow the money trail with most things, and the money trail shows he wasn’t going after Ari’s base. He was going after the young Russians and non-Russians. The amount of money he spent on Russian media was less than 10 percent. It defies all logic,” he said.

Kagan’s argument also appears weakened by the announcement this morning that Oberman would continue his campaign as a third party candidate, which would most likely detract from Storobin’s support from the Russian community.

Prior to the announcement, though, Kagan remained convinced.

“Do I believe [Oberman] was doing it for Storobin? I have a lot of reasons to suspect this. A lot of reasons . And of course, both of them will deny it,” he said. “Igor Oberman served his purpose. He bashed Ari Kagan, and he took some votes away from Ari Kagan. That’s why Storobin didn’t bash Oberman or anyone else. Just me, me, me,” he said, referring to Storobin’s lone attack during the entire campaign.

The following is a message from the offices of Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz:

Photo by Erica Sherman

Photo by Erica Sherman

The only thing worse than having maxed-out charge cards and a mortgage in default is when your kids have them. Hard to believe, but the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that no fewer than 8.6 million households had at least one member, age 12 or older, who became a victim of identity theft. Children are, in fact, 51 times more likely to have their identity stolen than adults.

As a member of the Assembly’s Codes Committee, I recently helped to pass legislation (A.7872-A), which would protects a students’ right to privacy. The bill gives parents of students – and students age 18 or older – the opportunity to opt out of the state Education Department’s disclosure of personal identifiable information to a third party. A child’s personal information should never be compromised.

Unfortunately, this growing trend of child identity theft has led to nightmare scenarios that are becoming increasingly problematic to correct. While a 12-year-old child cannot sign a mortgage agreement, child identity theft can occur when a child’s Social Security Number and other personal information is stolen and used by someone to assume that identity.

Because children rarely carry debt at such an early age, and they are essentially “blank slates,” they unfortunately also represent the perfect targets for unscrupulous identity thieves. These false identities can be used to acquire credit cards, set up bank accounts, obtain driver’s licenses and even take out loans for car and house purchases. Oftentimes, because children do not have credit reports, the identity theft is not discovered until significant financial damage has been done.

Parents must remain vigilant in protecting their children from identity theft. The following useful steps can be taken to avoid the devastating effects of child identity theft:

  • Keep an eye out for mail addressed to your child, especially credit card offers or debt collection materials;
  • Don’t share your child’s Social Security Number unless it’s necessary and ask what it’s needed for and how it will be protected;
  • Speak to your child about the importance of keeping their personal information safe;
  • Acquire a credit report with your child’s personal information by contacting the three credit agencies below or visitingwww.annualcreditreport.com. You are entitled to a free credit report once a year from each agency. If activity is discovered, immediately report findings with the three credit agencies and file an identity theft report with local police.

For more information regarding child identity theft or to file a complaint, contact the State’s Division of Consumer Protection at 518-474-8583 orwww.dos.ny.gov .

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me on this and any other matter. My district office can be reached at (718) 743-4078 and we’re located at 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road. We’re open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m.to 5:30 p.m. and Fridays until 3 p.m. during the summer. Of course, you may always email me at cymbros@assembly.state.ny.us.

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