Florida Man Indicted for International Email Impersonation and Fraud Scam
BOSTON – A Florida man was indicted yesterday in federal court in Boston in connection with a scam in which he and co-conspirators defrauded victims by pretending to be employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Frank Gregory Cedeno, 27, of Ocoee, Fla., was indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. In January 2018, Cedeno was charged by criminal complaint and arrested.
The indictment alleges that, from at least April 2016 through November 2017, Cedeno conspired with others to defraud victims by pretending to be employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Under that guise, members of the conspiracy allegedly demanded money from victims, directing them to send it to members of the conspiracy, including Cedeno. The conspirators who received the money generally withdrew it from bank accounts quickly, then forwarded much of it to individuals in the Dominican Republic. In one common version of the scam, victims received e-mails that used official-seeming documentation and the SEC seal to induce the victim to pay a fee in order to receive a portion of a legal settlement. In another version, victims received e-mails and official-seeming documents labeling the victim a defendant in a civil lawsuit, in which the victim owed tens of thousands of dollars in supposed disgorgement, penalties, and fees. The documents gave the victim a choice of either appearing in court to contest the lawsuit or paying a smaller fee.
Co-conspirator Leonel Alexis Valerio Santana, 28, of Boston, was previous charged by criminal complaint in connection with the scheme and remains detained pending trial. That complaint alleged that, between June 2015 and June 2017, there were at least 95 victims targeted by the scam, with fraudulent solicitations exceeding $1.3 million and actual losses of more than $235,000.
The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss in the offense, and restitution. The charge of money laundering conspiracy provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Carl. W. Hoecker, Inspector General of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Inspector General; and Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian A. Pérez-Daple of Lelling’s Criminal Division is prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the court documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.