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Press Release

Another Tech Support Fraudster Sentenced To Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois

An American citizen who spent over a year running the day-to-day operations of a fraudulent tech
support call center in Costa Rica is heading to prison. Michael Cary Lawing, 34, of Lincolnton,
North Carolina, has been sentenced to serve 18 months behind bars for his role as the CEO of ABC
Repair Tech (ABC) from 2015 to 2016. Lawing pleaded guilty in October 2018 to a one-count felony
information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to court documents, Lawing’s company was affiliated with another fraudulent tech support
business in South Florida known as First Choice Tech Support, which later changed its name to
Client Care Experts (CCE). Both ABC and CCE purchased pop-up advertisements that would appear
suddenly on a person’s computer screen. The pop-ups were made to look like system warnings and
falsely informed the victims that serious problems, such as viruses or malware, had been detected
on their computers. Often, the pop-ups caused the person’s internet browser to freeze up and stop
responding. The pop-ups also typically warned the victims not to shut down their computers or else
they would lose all their data. Instead, the ads directed them to call a toll-free number, where
they were connected to sales representatives who continued the fraud.

The sales representatives at ABC and CCE would convince the victims to grant them remote access to
their computers, where normal computer functions and routine processes were highlighted as evidence
of serious computer problems. Victims were never told that the pop-ups that had hijacked their
computers were just advertisements purchased by the tech support company, or that in most instances
they could make the pop-ups go away simply by rebooting their computers. Instead, they were sold
remote “tune-ups” for $250 and anti-virus protection software for another $400. If victims balked
at the steep prices, the sales representatives would offer them a discount for being a senior
citizen or a military veteran or something else.

From 2013-2016, the two companies – CCE and ABC – combined to defraud more than 40,000 people.
Victims were located in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, several
U.S.  territories,  all  10  Canadian  provinces,  the  United  Kingdom,  and  several  other
foreign countries. At least 57 victims of the scams were residents of the Southern District of Illinois,
representing 22 of the district’s 38 counties, including St. Clair and Madison. All told, the two
companies took in over $25 million.

In handing down the 18-month sentence, Chief United States District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel
explained that the need to deter other would-be scammers was a “big factor” in her decision. “The
general public needs to see that this kind of crime is taken seriously,” she said.

As part of his sentence, Lawing was ordered to pay back over $266,000 in restitution to ABC victims
– a figure that represents ten percent of the roughly $2.6 million in actual losses incurred by
over 10,000 victims during Lawing’s tenure as the company’s top executive. Evidence presented in
court showed that Lawing himself made only about $90,000 from the scam. The bulk of ABC’s
fraudulent earnings were reportedly reinvested in the company.

Lawing’s sentence comes just one week after CCE’s Vice President, Grand Clark Wasik, 36, of Oakland
Park, Florida, was sentenced to 125 months in prison and ordered to pay over $10 million in
restitution. Wasik pled guilty to count one of a 14-count superseding indictment earlier this year.
Two former owners of CCE, Michael Austin Seward, 32, of Deerfield Beach, Florida, and Kevin James
McCormick, 46, of Delray Beach, Florida, also pled guilty to their role in the conspiracy and are
due to be sentenced on November 18. The Honorable Joe Billy McDade from the Central District of
Illinois, who presided over Wasik’s case, will also conduct the sentencings of Seward and

Since April 2017, 14 other employees of CCE and ABC have also pleaded guilty to federal fraud
violations in the Southern District of Illinois:

•      Joseph Ralph Aievoli, IV, 26, of Boynton Beach, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Cory Steven Bachman, 26, of Boynton Beach, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Andrew Douglas Broad, 27, of Boynton Beach, FL – Director of Training at CCE
•      Ryan Stocker Carr, 24, of Mount Laurel, NJ – Team Leader at CCE
•      Joshua Dennis Cortez, 38, of Lake Worth, FL – Director of Training at CCE
•      Erica Marie Crowell, 30, of Maple Shade, NJ – Salesperson at CCE
•      Nicholas James Davidson, 27, of Boynton Beach, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Patrick M. Dougherty, 36, of Boynton Beach, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Tatum Elyse Espenshade, 27, of West Palm Beach, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Eric M. Iannaccone, 33, of Monroe Township, NJ – Sales Manager at CCE
•      Anthony Vincent Ludena, 30, of Boca Raton, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Robert Thomas McCart, 33, of Boynton Beach, FL – Team Leader at CCE
•      Timothy James Miller, II, 28, of Schwenksville, PA – Salesperson at CCE
•      Jonathan Matthew Richardson, 28, of Lake Worth, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Kyle Evan Swinson, 27, of Boynton Beach, FL – Team Leader at ABC/CCE

Eleven of these additional defendants have been sentenced already:

Date Defendant Prison Sentence Restitution
Mar. 8, 2018 Ryan Carr 12 months + 1 day $20,384.36
May 7, 2018 Joshua Cortez 18 months $3,034.00
June 8, 2018 Patrick Dougherty 12 months + 1 day $240,966.94
June 14, 2018 Anthony Ludena 12 months + 1 day $176,692.26
June 29, 2018 Nicholas Davidson 5 years probation $181,808.40
July 26, 2018 Timothy Miller 5 years probation + 200 hours
community service
Aug. 3, 2018 Tatum Espenshade 1 day + 18 months home detention $132,683.68
Sept. 11, 2018 Andrew Broad 12 months + 1 day $55,238.28
Sept. 20, 2018 Jonathan Richardson 12 months + 1 day $78,638.99
Oct. 4, 2018 Cory Bachman 1 day $156,806.25
Oct. 10, 2019 Joseph Aievoli 1 day $106,355.82

Because the crimes allegedly took place in connection with telemarketing and victimized 10 or more
persons over the age of 55, the maximum punishment in each case is 30 years imprisonment. The
defendants could also be ordered to serve up to five years of supervised release and pay a fine of
up to $250,000. Under federal law, restitution to identified victims is mandatory.

These cases are part of an ongoing investigation by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago
Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service and are being prosecuted by Assistant
United States Attorneys Nathan D. Stump, Scott A. Verseman, and Ranley R. Killian.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office raided CCE in June 2016 and has been cooperating with the
federal investigation, in addition to bringing its own civil enforcement action against CCE under
Florida state law.

The Federal Trade Commission has been working for some time to shut down illegal tech support
scams. For more information about the FTC’s “2019 Tech Support Takedown,” please visit

Some consumers who were victimized by ABC or CCE / First Choice Tech Support have
received additional fraudulent calls. These calls typically come from companies claiming   either
(a) that the technical support the victims purchased has been transferred to them and additional
funds are now needed; or (b) that they can help the victims obtain a refund. Victims should be
advised that no companies have been authorized to provide them with any tech support services on
behalf of ABC or CCE / First Choice Tech Support, or to provide them with a refund for any
previous purchases.

Updated October 16, 2019