Two Lithuanian Nationals Charged with Forced Labor and Servitude to Compel Man to Commit Computer Fraud
Defendants Allegedly Recruited Man from Lithuania for Computer Work, Then Used Violence and Threats to Force Him to Make Purchases with Stolen Credit Card
ATLANTA - Two Lithuanian nationals were arraigned in federal court in Atlanta before United States Magistrate Judge Janet F. King this morning on charges of recruiting a man to travel to the United States for work but then using violence to force him, and a friend who accompanied him from Lithuania, to participate in a credit card fraud scheme once in the United States. A federal grand jury returned an indictment on Wednesday charging Vygantas Visinskis, 29, and Mindaugas Kacerauskis, 27, both of Lithuania, with conspiracy to commit, and commission of, forced labor, and document servitude. Judge King ordered that both defendants be detained.
United States Attorney Sally Yates said, “Servitude cases present troubling stories of criminals who exploit the power they hold over victims who aren’t familiar with the United States and have no friends or family to help when they arrive here. We are committed to aggressively pursuing servitude offenses and we will prosecute these criminals whether they are compelling labor, or, as alleged here, forcing others to participate in their criminal schemes.”
Brock Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta said, “These defendants engaged in a form of modern day slavery by violently intimidating their victims into working for them and trying to prevent their escape with threats and the seizure of their passports. HSI is grateful to the Sandy Springs Police Department for recognizing the seriousness of this crime and calling in our special agents and federal prosecutors to ensure these crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: On or about September 5, 2012, Sandy Springs Police Department officers encountered Visinskis and Kacerauskis after officers responded to a 911 call at an apartment complex in Sandy Springs, Georgia. The victim, T.B., told the officers that he and a friend, T.K., were being held by Visinskis and Kacerauskis against their will. Later that same day, Department of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) special agents interviewed T.B. and T.K. T.B. reported that he met Visinskis in Lithuania, and that Visinskis recruited him to travel to the United States to work with computers. T.B., along with T.K., agreed to travel to the United States with Visinskis.
On or about August 17, 2012, Visinskis bought a computer, directed T.B. to various websites, and ordered him to purchase airline tickets using a stolen credit card. Visinskis introduced T.B. and T.K. to Kacerauskis, who also traveled to the United States on or about August 17, 2012. When the group arrived in Atlanta, Visinskis stated that T.B.’s knowledge of computers would enable Visinskis and Kacerauskis to use a credit card scheme to export items to Lithuania. At Visinskis’s direction, T.B. purchased items on-line with a stolen credit card provided by Visinskis, having the items shipped to an address in Summit, Illinois. Visinskis informed T.B. that he was already involved with credit card fraud and, therefore, could not report the defendants to the police.
The defendants used violence and threats of violence to compel the victim’s services. On three occasions, Kacerauskis kicked, struck, and cut T.B. The men also threatened to hurt T.K. if T.B. refused to work for them. And on September 4, 2012, the night before T.B. called 911, Kacerauskis warned T.B. that he would stab T.B. if he or T.K. attempted to leave. Kacerauskis then seized T.B. and T.K.’s passports.
The indictment charges Visinskis and Kacerauskis with conspiracy to commit forced labor, as well as the substantive offenses of forced labor and document servitude. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment, and a fine of up to $250,000. The forced labor charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment, and a fine of up to $250,000. The document servitude offense carries a maximum sentence of five years of confinement, and a fine of up to $250,000.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by HSI with assistance from the Sandy Springs Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorneys Yonette S. Buchanan and Richard S. Moultrie, Jr. are prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Information Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.