Court shuts down two international mail fraud operations targeting seniors

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Court shuts down two international mail fraud operations targeting seniors
Court shuts down two international mail fraud operations targeting seniors

A federal court in New York has permanently barred 14 people and entities from operating two alleged multimillion dollar international mail fraud schemes that targeted older Americans and others, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

In both schemes, the department said, fraudulent “direct mailers” created letters falsely claiming that recipients had won, or soon would win, cash or prizes or otherwise would come into good fortune. To collect the benefits, recipients were instructed to pay what was called a processing fee.

The letters, according to the Justice Department, were designed to look as if they came from legitimate sources, typically on official-looking letterhead, although they were from fictitious individuals and organizations with names such as “Baroness de Rothman,” “DNF Funds Office,” “Finkelstein & Partner,” the “Harrison Institute” and “Marie de Fortune.” Moreover, even though the solicitations in reality were identical form letters sent to thousands or tens of thousands of recipients, the letters appeared to be personally addressed.

In one case, United States v. BDK, et al., consent decrees were entered on Tuesday, resolving litigation. The U.S. government's complaint, filed in September 2016, alleged that the defendants' fraud scheme victimized hundreds of thousands of Americans and targeted primarily the elderly and vulnerable. According to the complaint, the victims sent the defendants payments totaling $50 to $60 million annually between 2005 and 2016. The defendants, individuals and companies, were from the United States, France, India, Singapore and Switzerland.

In the other case, United States v. Ercan Barka, et al., consent decrees were entered Oct. 5. The U.S. government's amended complaint, filed in May, alleged that defendants Barka, a resident of Turkey and New Jersey, and Ryan Young of New Jersey collected approximately $29 million from American victims of a mail fraud scheme from 2012 through 2016. True Vision LLC, a Delaware-based corporation, also was a defendant.

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