Browsing: Fraud

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Some criminals spend their dirty money on drugs. Others blow it on luxury cars, high-end escorts, or trips to obscure rich-people enclaves like Gstaad, Switzerland. Or, if you’re Dr. Fernando Mendez-Villamil, a man accused of running one of the largest fake-prescription schemes in history, you invest heavily in paintings of surreal horses and nude women.

Last Friday, Mendez-Villamil pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States in regard to immigration matters, and “conspiracy to defraud the government.” And on June 30, authorities seized his 221-piece collection of surrealist art from his home.

counterfiet_pursesImage via Facebooko

From a showroom set up in her pricey Coconut Grove home, Tascon peddled fake designer handbags from the likes of Louis Vuitton and counterfeit Rolex watches.

Selling clients a fake version of the good life earned her more than $700,000, and, in turn, the money helped fund her own good life. When she filed for bankruptcy in 2014, she failed to report the income from her counterfeit business. The feds soon uncovered a web of money laundering and counterfeit trafficking.

cryptsy“I’m Paul Vernon — Big Vern — of Cryptsy,” said the CEO, whose company was an online marketplace where users could trade their Bitcoins — a virtual form of money — for a growing number of digital imitators with names like Litecoin and Darkcoin.

Business was booming. In barely a year, Cryptsy had amassed 250,000 users trading millions of dollars, and Vernon was flying cross-country to speak at conferences from New York to San Francisco. His firm had outgrown its first office and moved its dozen or so employees into this Mediterranean-style building. Soon, Vernon himself would upgrade to a million-dollar Delray Beach mansion.

But there were hints that something wasn’t quite right at Cryptsy.

flea_marketImage by Phillip Pessar via MNT Flickr Pool

“Opa-locka Hialeah is the place to go,” goes the familiar jingle. “It’s more than just a market, it’s a great big” center of food stamp fraud, apparently. Multiple agencies raided the iconic Opa-locka Hialeah Flea Market this afternoon and 22 shop owners ended up being indicted. Some were hauled off in zip-tie handcuffs for participating in a widespread scheme that involved exchanging food stamps for cash.

Stealing someone’s identity to become a dinner cruise ship captain might be easier than actually going through the training — but the latter, at least, doesn’t end with a ten-year prison sentence hanging over your head. Cynthia Lyerla has been arrested for using the stolen identity of a dead woman for more than 20 years in order to obtain a mariner’s license and Transportation Security Administration documentation — and also to get paid to live in vacationers’ paradise.


Patricia Perez-Gonzalez, 26, and her boyfriend, Alberto Companioni, 31, were living a life of extravagance in the stereotypical way some outsiders think all Miamians live. But it turns out they may have been funding that opulent lifestyle with a complex criminal operation of credit card fraud.

Beginning in 2014, the couple stole people’s personal information to obtain American Express personal cards, prosecutors say. The victims were primarily senior citizens, and the duo would have the cards sent to random locations. They racked up charges on luxury vacations, designer clothes, and exotic cars.

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