US v. Maria Luzula, Juan Rodriguez Cuya, Angeluz Florida Corporation and Angeluz Miami, LLC

 

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US v. Maria Luzula, Juan Rodriguez Cuya, Angeluz Florida Corporation and Angeluz Miami, LLC

   
 
   

Docket Number: 14-CR-20221 (S.D. Fla.)

Most Recent Update 1/27/15

1/27/15: On January 27, 2015, U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz sentenced Juan Alejandro Rodriguez Cuya to 210 months in prison for his operation of Angeluz Florida Corporation in Miami and call centers in Peru that lied to and threatened Spanish-speaking victims into paying fraudulent settlements for nonexistent debts.  According to evidence presented at trial, Rodriguez Cuya’s employees in Peru used Internet-based telephone calls to Spanish-speaking victims in the United States, threatened lawsuits, arrest, deportation, and forfeiture of property for refusing delivery of certain products and claimed the victims owed thousands of dollars in fines.  In reality, the victims had never ordered these products and nothing had been delivered, but Rodriguez Cuya’s employees claimed that the consumers could resolve the threatened fines if they immediately paid a “settlement fee.” A phone room in Miami collected the fees from thousands of victims.  Rodriguez Cuya was convicted of twenty-six counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and extortion following a two week trial in October.  Rodriguez Cuya’s co-defendant Maria Luzula pled guilty halfway through trial and was sentenced to serve 165 months in federal prison. 

12/22/14: On December 22, 2014, U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz sentenced Maria Luzula to serve 165 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for her operation of Angeluz Florida Corporation and call centers in Peru that lied to and threatened Spanish-speaking victims into paying fraudulent settlements for nonexistent debts.  In addition to her prison sentence, Luzula was ordered to forfeit assets, including her Miami area home.   Three of Luzula’s victims attended her sentencing and told the judge that they have lost trust in people and that they still become nervous every time the phone rings.  The court scheduled a hearing to determine to whom Luzula owes restitution for March 11, 2015.   The sentencing hearing for Juan Alejandro Rodriguez Cuya has been rescheduled for January 27, 2015, at 10 am before the Honorable Patricia A. Seitz in Miami.

10/17/14: On October 17, a jury in Miami convicted a Lima, Peru, man on 26 felony charges of conspiracy, fraud and attempted extortion arising from his operating call centers in Peru that lied to and threatened Spanish-speaking victims into paying fraudulent settlements. Juan Alejandro Rodriguez Cuya, 35, was convicted by a jury after less than two hours of deliberation following a two-week trial before U.S. District Court Judge Patricia A. Seitz in Miami federal court. His co-defendant at trial, Maria Luzula, 52, of Miami, pleaded guilty to all of the charges against her midway through the trial. According to evidence presented at trial, the defendants’ employees in Peru used Internet-based telephone calls to Spanish-speaking victims in the United States, threatened arrest, deportation, lawsuit or forfeiture of property for refusing delivery of certain products and claimed the victims owed thousands of dollars in fines. In reality, the victims had never ordered these products and nothing had been delivered but Luzula’s and Cuya’s employees claimed that the consumers could resolve the fines if they immediately paid a “settlement fee.” A phone room in Miami collected the fees from thousands of victims succumbing to these false threats, fees which victims did not owe and simply could not afford. Cuya and Luzula, Cuya’s mother, both face a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison on each count. Both defendants remain in custody pending their sentencing. Sentencing for Luzula is scheduled for December 18. Sentencing for Cuya is set for January 22, 2015.

10/8/14: Trial commenced October 6 before U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz of the Southern District of Florida.

6/25/14: On June 10, 2014, Maria Luzula of Miami and Juan Alejandro Rodriguez Cuya of Lima, Peru, were charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, seventeen counts of mail fraud, nineteen counts of wire fraud, and four counts of attempted extortion in relation to their work with corporations Angeluz Florida Corporation and Angeluz Miami, LLC. The defendants caused their employees in Peru to call Spanish-speaking consumers across the United States and falsely tell them they were liable for significant fees and fines due to their failure to accept delivery of products that they had not ordered. The callers posed as attorneys calling on behalf of government entities or companies that marketed products to Spanish-speaking consumers and threatened to bring suit in federal court in Washington DC to recover costs and fees allegedly associated with attempts to deliver these products. Although victims insisted they had not ordered any such products, the callers told them they had proof of the attempted deliveries and that victims would need to appear in court with an attorney.

At times, the victims were also threatened with deportation, detention, negative marks on their credit reports, confiscation of property, and community service requirements, for which they would need to take time off of work. The callers informed the victims that the only way to avoid costly litigation was to pay a settlement of several hundred dollars. Employees in Miami then processed the settlement payments and sent victims a receipt and various other items, which the firm used as evidence against chargebacks sought by credit companies after victims concluded they had been defrauded. Luzula is the firm’s owner operator and managed a call center in Miami. Rodriguez Cuya oversaw the firm’s two call rooms in Peru and participated with Luzula in drafting threatening call scripts. A trial has been set for October 6, 2014 before Judge Kathleen Williams in Miami, Florida.

 
Topic: 
Consumer Protection
Component: 
Civil Division
Updated January 30, 2015