Justice Department acts to dismantle fraud schemes targeting elderly

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 Individuals and companies affected by Thursday's actions:

  • PacNet Services Ltd., a Vancouver, British Columbia-based international payments processor and money services business.
  • Ercan Barka, a resident of Turkey, and True Vision LLC, a Delaware-based corporation through which he operates.
  • DK Mailing GmbH, Mailing Force Pte. Ltd. and Only Three Pte. Ltd. (collectively BDK), three entities under common ownership and based in Switzerland and Singapore, and principals Chantal Seguy and Marion Elchlepp, both of Paris, and Aurore Jouffroy of Zurich.
  • Macromark Inc., a Connecticut-based list broker that has marketed BDK's lead lists to third-party direct mailers, and Mary Ellen Meyer, 45, of Mahopac, New York, a Macromark client service manager.
  • Mail Order Solutions India Pvt. Ltd., an India-based printer and distributor, and its principals, Dharti Desai, 49, of New York County and Mumbai, India, and Mehul Desai, also of Mumbai.
  • DMCS Inc., Direct Marketing Consulting Services Inc., Horizon Marketing Services Inc., Quantum Marketing Inc. and their principals, Sean Novis, Gary Denkberg and Cathy Johnson, all of Nassau County, New York.
  • Erik Dekker of the Netherlands and Dutch companies Kommunikatie Service Buitenland B.V. and Trends Service in Kommunikatie B.V. (See this article for more information about previous related action.)
  • Glen Burke and Michael Rossi, both of Las Vegas.
  • Terry Somenzi of Los Angeles, who did business through a company called International Advisory Services Inc.; David Raff of Weston, FL, and his company, Millennium Direct Inc., also doing business as MDI Lists; and Ian Gamberg, also of Weston, doing business through Printmail Corporate Solutions Inc.
  • Waverly Direct Inc., and its owner, Gordon Shearer, a New York-based direct mailer.
  • Nicholas Valenti of Nevada.

For more information, see the Department of Justice website.

The Justice Department, with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control and other law enforcement partners, Thursday announced enforcement actions — criminal charges, economic sanctions, seizure of criminal proceeds and civil injunction lawsuits — along with the execution of search warrants, to combat a global network of mass mailing fraud schemes that they said collectively have defrauded millions of older adults and others across the United States out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Every year, fraudulent mail schemes target millions of Americans with false promises of wealth and riches, swindling hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “Today's actions send a clear message that the Department of Justice is determined to hold the perpetrators of these harmful schemes accountable. And they make unmistakably clear that we are committed to protecting our people from exploitation — especially our older citizens, who are so often the focus of these shameful ruses.”

See the accompanying sidebar for details.

In addition to the enforcement actions and execution of search warrants, a consortium of government agencies and nonprofit groups led by the department's Consumer Protection Branch and Elder Justice Initiative announced a public education campaign to heighten public awareness and educate potential victims and their families about the schemes.

“We believe that consumer education is the best defense against these scammers,” said Postal Service's Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell. “We can't arrest all of these con artists, so preventing the crime is critical.”

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Social Security Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and USA.gov will reach out to caregivers — friends, relatives, social workers and others in contact with older adults — about the need to be vigilant against letters promising prizes that are being sent to those in their care.

Non-governmental organizations including the AARP, the Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, the Elder Justice Coalition, the Meals on Wheels Association of America, the National Adult Protective Services Association, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities, the National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Consumers League will contribute to the public education campaign, too. They will education their members and the general public through their websites, newsletters, social media channels, training and outreach events and other means.

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