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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Illinois

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Former CEO, CFO of South Florida Tech Support Scam Plead Guilty to Federal Charges in Southern Illinois

There will be no trial for two South Florida men who owned and operated a fraudulent tech support 
business known as Client Care Experts, LLC (CCE), U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft announced 
today. Michael Austin Seward, 32, of Deerfield Beach, Florida, and Kevin James McCormick, 46, of 
Delray Beach, Florida, have both pleaded guilty to a federal indictment charging them with 
conspiracy to commit wire fraud, admitting in the process that their  business
– formerly known as “First Choice Tech Support” – was a scam.

Seward and McCormick were part owners of CCE, based in Boynton Beach, Florida, and held themselves 
out as the chief executive officer and chief financial officer respectively. As part of their 
guilty pleas, both men admitted that they also oversaw the operations of another fraudulent tech 
support business called ABC Repair Tech (ABC), located in Costa Rica.

According to court documents, the defendants 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 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.

Before Seward and McCormick pleaded guilty, they had been set for trial on Sept. 9. Their case has 
been pending since May 2018, when a federal grand jury in East St. Louis returned a superseding 
indictment charging them and their former vice president, Grant Clark Wasik, 35, of Boynton Beach, 
Florida, with one count of conspiracy and 13 counts of wire fraud. Wasik pleaded guilty to the 
conspiracy count earlier this year.

The Honorable Joe Billy McDade from the Central District of Illinois was recently appointed to 
preside over the case and will handle the defendants’ sentencing hearings from the federal district 
courthouse in East St. Louis. Seward and McCormick are set to be sentenced on November 18. Wasik’s 
sentencing is scheduled for October 8.

The former CEO of ABC, Michael Cary Lawing, is due to be sentenced on October 15 before the 
Honorable Nancy J. Rosenstengel, Chief United States District Judge for the Southern District of 
Illinois. Lawing, 34, of Lincolnton, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy 
late last year.

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
•      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

Another CCE salesperson, Erica Crowell, 30, of Maple Shade, New Jersey, remains under indictment 
and is scheduled for trial on Sept. 9. Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is 
merely a formal charge against a defendant. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until 
proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury.
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.

Ten of the convicted 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 $127,042.06
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 Corey Bachman 1 day $156,806.25

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. The cases are being prosecuted by 
Assistant United States Attorneys Scott A. Verseman, Ranley R. Killian, and Nathan D. Stump.

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.

Financial Fraud
Updated August 15, 2019