Quebec Resident Indicted In Multi-Million Dollar Telemarketing Scheme
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal Indictment charging Nicolaos Menis with mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering was unsealed yesterday in federal court, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag, U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge Rafael E. Nunez, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez.
Menis, 42, of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec, Canada, was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on August 7, 2014. According to the Indictment, Menis executed a scheme to defraud in which he sent, or caused others to send, invoices to small businesses, churches, cities, and others indicating that they owed payment for a service variously described as “business listing optimization,” “business profile optimization,” and “online business listing optimization,” when such services were never ordered. The invoices instructed the small businesses to send payment – usually around $500 – to a street address that, according to the Indictment, was a UPS or similar mailbox rented by one of the companies involved in the scheme. The Indictment alleges that Menis caused others to call, or receive calls from, small businesses regarding the fraudulent invoices and falsely state that the small businesses had ordered “business listing optimization” or similar services and owed the amount on the invoice. According to the Indictment, between in or about May 2009 and in or about June 2014, Menis and others collected approximately $3.6 million from more than 4,000 victims and transferred the money from bank accounts in the United States held by entities involved in the scheme to bank accounts in Canada.
Menis was arrested after entering the United States on August 11, 2014. He made his initial appearance in federal court in Orlando, Florida, on August 12, 2014, and was ordered detained and removed to the Northern District of California. He is scheduled to appear in federal court in San Francisco, Calif., at a date and time to be determined.
The Indictment alleges four counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 1349, is 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, plus restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h), is 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the funds involved in the transaction. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Robert S. Leach is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Bridget Kilkenny and Mary Mallory. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service in San Francisco and Albany, New York; IRS – Criminal Investigation; and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations in Rouses Point, New York.