Cyber Initiative "Snares" Three Las Vegas Valley Residents
Las Vegas, Nev. - A husband and wife who operated an internet jewelry business from their home in Las Vegas have been charged with Wire Fraud, and a third individual has pleaded guilty to Access Device Fraud and Mail Fraud, as part of "Operation Web Snare," a collaborative nationwide enforcement operation targeting online fraud and crime, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada. The couple, RAUL HERNANDEZ, age 44, and GLORIA HERNANDEZ, age 26, of Las Vegas, allegedly received orders and payment over the internet for expensive designer watches, but failed to provide their customers with the merchandise. The third individual, MARC ALLYN KWASEK, age 39, of Henderson, Nevada, used fraudulently-obtained identification information to obtain credit cards and services in other persons' names.
RAUL and GLORIA HERNANDEZ are charged in a four-count Indictment with Wire Fraud and Aiding and Abetting, all felony offenses. The Indictment was handed up by the Federal Grand Jury in Las Vegas yesterday. According to the Indictment, in March 2000, RAUL and GLORIA HERNANDEZ formed a Nevada corporation called Nevada Custom Jewelry, Inc. for the purpose of selling jewelry over the internet. On October 16, 2000, they obtained a Clark County business license under the name Nevada Jewelry Design (NJD), and began operating NJD from their residence at 4477 Mountain Vista in Las Vegas. The couple primarily advertised designer watches for sale on an NJD website and on "e-Bay." Customers purchased the watches by submitting credit card information on-line or mailing a check to the defendants, or by wiring money to the defendants' bank account. The defendants allegedly deposited the monies into their bank accounts and promised the customers they would ship the jewelry, but instead diverted the funds for their personal use and did not send the merchandise to the customers.
The specific instances of fraud alleged in the indictment involve four individual victims who purchased Rolex watches from NJD between October 2001 and March 2002, for $4,220 to $9,850 each. In each instance, the defendants received the money, but never sent the watches to the victims. The Indictment alleges that the intended loss amount to the victims exceeds $30,000, and that the offense allegedly involved 10 or more victims.
If convicted, RAUL and GLORIA HERNANDEZ are facing up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.
In the other Nevada "Web Snare" case, defendant MARC ALLYN KWASEK, age 39, of Henderson, Nevada, pleaded guilty on July 2, 2004, to one count of Access Device Fraud and one count of Mail Fraud. Using fraudulently-obtained information, KWASEK established credit card accounts, obtained credit cards, and purchased goods and services in the names of two other individuals. Using stolen identification information, KWASEK established nine fraudulent business accounts with United Parcel Service and Airborne Express, and used the accounts to ship merchandise he was selling over the internet without paying for it. KWASEK fraudulently obtained approximately $40,000 in shipping services using this scheme. KWASEK is scheduled to be sentenced on September 10, 2004, at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Roger L. Hunt.
Agencies participating in Operation Web Snare nationally are the FBI, U.S. Customs & Immigration Enforcement, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Federal Trade Commission. Locally, the above two cases were investigated by the Nevada Cyber Crime Task Force. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kimberly M. Frayn and Margaret M. Stanish.
"The above prosecutions show that we are continuing to anticipate and adapt to new trends in internet crime in Nevada," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "Since the latest report from the Federal Trade Commission ranks Nevada second in the nation for reported identity theft victims per capita, and sixth in the nation in fraud complaints per capita, with internet fraud listed as the most common type of complaint, we must continue to pool our efforts and work together to aggressively pursue and deter cyber criminals."
Individuals or companies should report internet-related crime immediately to their local law enforcement agency and may also file online complaints with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at: www.ifccfbi.gov or Federal Trade Commission at: www.ftc.gov.
The public is reminded that an Indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.