Fort Pierce Judge Sentences Two Men to Federal Prison for Producing Child Sexual Abuse Material out of Tattoo Shop and Other Crimes
Two foreign nationals charged with orchestrating an international mail fraud scheme.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Ronald J. Verrochio, Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, made the announcement.
On November 19, 2015, Cristian Mariano Pardo, 30, and Jorge Gabriel Barca, 33, both of Buenos Aires, Argentina, were indicted in West Palm Beach on a single count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341 and fifteen counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349. The defendants each face up to 20 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and mandatory restitution, on each charge. Pardo was arraigned this morning on the indictment. Barca has not yet been arrested.
According to the indictment, between September 2008 and September 2015, the defendants operated telemarketing call centers or “boiler rooms,” in Argentina that targeted Spanish-speaking consumers residing in the United States. The defendants obtained the names of these consumers from lead lists which they had purchased in Argentina. The lists included names of consumers who had previously made online or direct mail purchases of various items, including items sold on Spanish language television, such as English classes.
The telemarketers, acting at the direction of the defendants, would call Spanish-speaking U.S. residents to tell them that they would be receiving a small parcel in the mail that the consumers had ordered. The callers would state that if the consumers failed to pay for the cost on delivery (C.O.D.) package – typically a charge of $500 - they would be subject to lawsuits, expensive attorney’s fees and court costs, arrest, deportation, and/or have their credit ruined.
In truth, these consumers had not ordered any merchandise, and only paid the $500 demanded for the C.O.D. because of the numerous threats made by the boiler room callers.
When consumers refused delivery of a package sent by the defendants’ companies, they frequently were contacted again by the Argentinian telemarketers, who often identified themselves as attorneys. The callers again threatened the consumers if they refused to accept the packages.
As a result of these threats, numerous consumers paid an average of $500 for products of nominal value that they in fact had never ordered, fearing the consequences of failing to do so. In order to avoid detection and the filing of consumer complaints, Pardo and Barca changed the names of their companies frequently. During the course of the conspiracy, Pardo and Barca, through their companies, attempted to collect C.O.D. fees from thousands of consumers, and collected at least $700,000 in proceeds from the targeted consumers.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of USPIS. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Jorgensen.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.