Illinois Man Charged With Fraudulent Scheme Involving Impersonation Of Canadian Government Officials
BROOKLYN, NY – Howard Leventhal, 56, was arrested this morning for defrauding a Florida company of $800,000 and attempting to defraud an undercover law enforcement agent in Brooklyn of more than $2.5 million, by falsely claiming that his company, Neovision USA, Inc. (“Neovision”), had a lucrative contract with Canada’s Department of Health (“Health Canada”). The defendant’s initial appearance for removal proceedings to the Eastern District of New York is scheduled this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Michael T. Mason, at the Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse in Chicago, Illinois.
The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).
According to the complaint unsealed this morning in Brooklyn federal court, in May 2012, Leventhal entered into a factoring agreement with Paragon Financial Group, Inc. (“Paragon”), a Florida company, whereby Paragon would advance Neovision $800,000 in exchange for Paragon’s right to collect a larger sum of money purportedly owed to Neovision by Health Canada. Health Canada’s indebtedness to Neovision was purportedly based on an agreement between Neovision and Health Canada, whereby Neovision would provide Health Canada with “Heltheo’s McCoy Home Health Tablet,” a device ostensibly named after the fictional Dr. Leonard McCoy of TV’s Star Trek series.1 To conceal his scheme, Leventhal assumed the identities of Health Canada representatives, including that of former Deputy Health Minister Glenda Yeates. Further, Leventhal created and used domain names, telephone numbers, and email addresses that closely resembled those actually used by Health Canada. For example, Leventhal created and used healthcanada.com.co and hc-sg-gc.ca in place of Health Canada’s true domain name hc-sc.gc.ca.
Contrary to Leventhal’s representations to Paragon, (1) there was no agreement between Health Canada and Neovision, (2) Health Canada did not owe Neovision any money, and (3) Deputy Health Minister Glenda Yeates’ signature on the agreement was a forgery. Believing his misrepresentations, Paragon advanced Leventhal $800,000. To date, Paragon has neither received a payment from Health Canada nor received a refund from Leventhal.
As alleged in the complaint, Leventhal also attempted to defraud a potential investor, who in reality was an undercover law enforcement agent posing as a high net worth individual, in Brooklyn, New York, of more than $2.5 million. In recorded conversations, Leventhal falsely represented that his company had a series of contracts with Health Canada for Heltheo’s McCoy Home Health Tablet and that his company had more than $18 million in sales for 2012. Leventhal emailed the undercover agent the same fraudulent agreement he used to deceive Paragon. To further induce the undercover agent to invest in his company, Leventhal sent him six months of phony Bank of America statements for Neovision that falsely showed more than $10 million in payments from Health Canada to Neovision from March 2013 through July 2013. Neovision’s actual bank statements for the same account and time period do not show any payments from Health Canada.
“As alleged, Leventhal claimed to have lucrative connections within the Canadian government and cutting edge technology that could help save lives. In reality, his scheme was pure science fiction, complete with phony documents and a fictional medical device. As part of his alternate reality, Leventhal impersonated Canadian government officials by creating phony government contracts, telephone numbers, and email addresses. Investors thought they were advancing scientific technology; instead they were merely financing Leventhal’s fraudulent scheme. Leventhal’s scheme was foiled due to the swift and effective actions of law enforcement both here and in Canada,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Health Canada for their significant cooperation and assistance in the investigation.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Venizelos stated, “As alleged in the complaint, Leventhal concocted a scheme to defraud potential investors of their money based upon misrepresentations, forgeries, and lies. After stealing money from Paragon, Leventhal aggressively pursued his next victim-investor who, unbeknownst to him, was an undercover law enforcement agent. The FBI will use all investigative resources at its disposal to combat cases of fraud and will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to ensure that individuals who line their pockets by defrauding investors are brought to justice.”
The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Winston M. Paes.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency task force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.
Long Grove, Illinois