Peruvian Man Sentenced for Threatening and Defrauding Spanish-Speaking Consumers Through Fraudulent Call Centers
A resident of Lima, Peru, charged with operating call centers that lied to and threatened Spanish-speaking victims in the United States, convincing them to pay fraudulent settlements, was sentenced today to more than four years in prison in federal district court in Miami, Florida, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) announced.
Cesar Luis Kou Reyna, 40, was sentenced to serve 58 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for operating telemarketing call centers in Peru that threatened Spanish-speaking victims across the United States with phony debts and other consequences of failure to pay the alleged debts that they did not owe. On Oct. 14, Reyna pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
“The threats made by the defendant’s call centers frightened and intimidated Spanish-speaking victims across the United States,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “As this case and other recent ones show, we will track down those responsible for defrauding and threatening American consumers, no matter where the fraudsters reside, what language they speak or which populations they target.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has a long tradition of protecting postal customers from these types of fraud and bringing those responsible to justice,” said Acting Inspector in Charge Delany De Leon-Colon of the USPIS’s Miami Division. “Every day we protect our postal customers and the general public from falling victim to these scams.”
Kou Reyna owned and controlled a corporation called Fonomundo FC, which operated call centers in Peru and payment and fulfilment operations in Miami. Fonomundo FC and its affiliated call centers used Internet-based telephone calling services to place cold calls to Spanish-speaking residents in the United States. The callers falsely claimed to be attorneys and said that victims had failed to pay for or receive a delivery of products, although the victims had not ordered these products.
The callers claimed that victims would be sued and that the companies would obtain large monetary judgements against them. Some victims were also threatened with negative marks on their credit reports, imprisonment or deportation. The callers said these threatened consequences could be avoided if the victims immediately paid “settlement fees.” Many victims made monetary payments based on these threats.
Kou Reyna was originally charged by criminal complaint and was arrested by USPIS on July 30. He has remained incarcerated since his arrest and was later indicted on Aug. 27.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mizer commended USPIS for its investigative efforts and thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida for its contributions to the case. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Phil Toomajian and Stephen T. Descano of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.