SANTA ANA, California – A customs broker has been arrested on a superseding grand jury indictment that alleges he defrauded clients out of $2 million while he was free on bond after being charged with bilking another client out of $3.4 million, the Justice Department announced today.
Frank Seung Noah, 62, of Corona, was arrested Thursday on an eight-count superseding indictment returned on October 4. He entered not guilty pleas during an arraignment Thursday afternoon.
According to court documents, Noah owned and operated Comis International Inc., a logistics and supply-chain company based in Cerritos, which offered customs import brokerage services on behalf of businesses. From 2007 to 2019, Comis was a customs import broker for Daiso, a Japan-based variety and value store with stores in the United States, including Southern California.
Noah was initially charged in February 2022 with engaging in a $3.4 million wire fraud scheme that overcharged Daiso on customs duties. From March 2016 until February 2019, Noah – acting through Comis – paid customs import duty fees to U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Daiso’s behalf. Noah then allegedly submitted invoices to Daiso that fraudulently inflated the customs import duty fees that Noah had paid. As a result of Noah’s scheme, the indictment alleges, Daiso paid the inflated invoices, and Noah fraudulently obtained approximately $3,379,774.
Noah was also charged in the 2022 indictment with evading the payment of $1.5 million in personal income taxes. The original indictment charged Noah with one count of tax evasion and three counts of wire fraud. Noah was released on bond pending trial in February 2022. A trial was scheduled for February 20, 2024.
The superseding indictment adds four wire fraud counts for allegedly defrauding two other victim clients, an online crafts store and a wholesale apparel distributor.
Beginning in late 2021 and continuing through June 2023 – with much of this period following the original indictment and while he was free on bond – Noah defrauded two other client companies by invoicing and receiving funds from the two victim companies, and then simply pocketing the funds instead of paying the customs duties to CBP, according to the superseding indictment. After CBP notified the victim clients of their unpaid customs duties, they asked Noah about the unpaid fees, and he allegedly sent the victim clients altered bank statements falsely reflecting that he had paid the customs duties. The two victims in this new part of the case allegedly suffered losses of approximately $2 million.
In relation to the tax evasion charge, Noah allegedly willfully attempted to evade the payment of approximately $1,562,684 in federal taxes which the IRS assessed against him for the calendar years 2008, 2009 and 2010. He allegedly did so by making small payments to the IRS, all while making much larger payments on mortgages for properties he controlled – even though they were bought in his girlfriend’s name – including his Corona residence purchased in 2016 and a vacation property in Rancho Mirage that was purchased the following year.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
Noah appeared this afternoon in United States District Court, where he was released on a $205,000 bond with strict pretrial supervision conditions, including home detention with location monitoring, an agreement that he would no longer directly or indirectly engage in customs brokering services, and a near prohibition on using email or accessing the internet.
If convicted of all charges, Noah would face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for the tax evasion count and 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count.
IRS Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Faraz Mohammadi of the Santa Ana Branch Office is prosecuting this case.