District Court Permanently Enjoins 15 Individuals and Companies from Involvement in Elder-Fraud Mail Schemes
A federal judge in the Eastern District of New York has ordered 15 individuals and companies to permanently cease their involvement with fraudulent mailings. According to a complaint filed by the United States in November 2018, the defendants mailed, or assisted the mailing of, thousands of solicitations stylized as individualized notices, which falsely stated recipients had won large sums of money or valuable prizes, but needed to pay a fee to claim the winnings. Yesterday’s order ends defendants’ involvement in these multi-million dollar mail fraud schemes. These cases are part of the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative.
“The Department will vigorously pursue those who peddle false promises of wealth,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “I look forward to the day when American consumers no longer find fraudulent mailings in their mailboxes.”
According to the complaint, the 15 defendants participated in the schemes in a variety of ways, including coordinating the mailings, opening and processing victims’ responses to the fraudulent solicitations, managing lists of recipients and respondents, and processing victim payments. Working together, the defendants mailed thousands of solicitations each week that trumpeted the recipients’ supposed good fortune and gave the false impression that the recipients were approved to receive large cash payments. The solicitations were mailed to victims throughout the world. Victims returned their payments to mailboxes located in the United States, but received nothing of value in return. The complaint alleged that, in the last year, the schemes collectively grossed an estimated $4.8 million in fraudulent proceeds.
“These permanent injunctions stop unscrupulous individuals and companies from conducting fraudulent solicitation schemes that targeted the elderly in our district and throughout the country and the world,” said U. S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York. “This office will continue to use all available resources to protect victims of get-rich-quick schemes.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has a long history of investigating fraud schemes and protecting customers from scammers. These defendants were making misleading promises of easy money,” said Inspector in Charge Delany DeLeon-Colon of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Criminal Investigations Group. “Anyone who engages in deceptive practices like this should know they will not go undetected and will be held accountable, regardless of where they are.”
The enjoined defendants reside in the United States, specifically in New York and Arizona, as well as in Canada and Germany. The complaint alleged that defendants Charles Kafeiti of Scottsdale, Arizona; Anthony Kafeiti of Port Jefferson, New York; and Steven L. Diaz of Mt. Sinai, New York, coordinated the schemes. Drew Wilson, of Vancouver, Canada, provided the Kafeitis and Diaz with logistical support. Dennis Hunsaker, of North Las Vegas, Nevada, and his company, Digital Matrix International Inc., enabled the mailings by providing tools that managed lists of recipients and lists of respondents. Carmine Maietta and Elizabeth Maietta, of Westbury, New York, opened and processed victim returns. A German corporation, SixEvolution GmbH, and its operator, David Anthony, processed victim payments.
The permanent injunctions were issued after the District Court granted the government’s request for a temporary restraining order. The permanent injunctions prohibit defendants from, among other things, sending fraudulent solicitations; receiving, handling, or opening any victim mail responding to solicitations; and using or benefiting from lists of victims who previously responded to solicitations. The defendants are also required to notify the government of any interest or participation in any entity involved in mass-mail marketing and of their use of any U.S.-based mailboxes. The orders also authorize the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to open mail that was detained by law enforcement and return payments to the schemes’ victims.
The government is represented by Trial Attorney Jacqueline Blaesi-Freed of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Seth Eichenholtz and John Vagelatos of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The United States Postal Inspection Service provided investigative support.
Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, visit its website at www.justice.gov/usao-edny.
Since President Trump signed the bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) into law, the Department of Justice has participated in hundreds of enforcement actions in criminal and civil cases that targeted or disproportionately affected seniors. In particular, this past March the Department announced the largest elder fraud enforcement action in American history, charging more than 260 defendants in a nationwide elder fraud sweep. The Department has likewise conducted hundreds of trainings and outreach sessions across the country since the passage of the Act. More information about the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available at www.justice.gov/elderjustice.