Three Jackson Men Arrested and Charged with Federal Crimes
Computer Security and Telemarketing Fraud Ring Targeted Senior Citizens
Jackson, Miss. – Three men have been charged with federal criminal violations in an indictment and arrested for conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft, and fictitious obligations, announced United States Attorney Mike Hurst and Jere T. Miles, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations, New Orleans Field Office.
“Fraud schemes, like the ones perpetrated and executed by these defendants, inflict considerable loss on citizens, companies, and the financial system,” said U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst. “Many of these schemes target the elderly and often steal the victims’ entire life savings. These arrests affirm the Department of Justice’s commitment to prosecuting those who prey on our most vulnerable citizens.”
“This remains a dynamic, coordinated investigation involving the efforts of multiple Homeland Security Investigations field offices,” said Jere T. Miles, Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans. “These arrests demonstrate that no matter how and where crimes are committed, nothing and no one is beyond the reach of the law. Criminals who use the internet to defraud victims in our community won’t be able to hide.”
An original indictment returned by a federal grand jury on March 19, 2019, charged the defendants James Haynes, 65, Jarvis Haynes, 29, and Neman Zahid, 32, of Jackson, Miss., with defrauding multiple victims as part of an international tech support and telemarketing fraud scheme.
According to the indictment, ten named defendants engaged in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and bank fraud, to make money and profit by defrauding individual victims and financial institutions through telemarketing. Members of the telemarketing ring would contact victims by telephone and electronic mail, claiming to offer those victims technical support and assistance to free their personal computers from malicious software or viruses that may have affected their computers. The fraud ring participants persuaded the victims to grant remote access to their computers, and the actors would pretend to be fixing the malware, while they searched for the victims’ bank account information and online access passwords. They also convinced victims to wire or send money, as well as to open and create new accounts for the defendants to receive and transfer funds. Often the ring targeted elderly victims, in particular. On occasions when victims would complain or seek repayment of the money they had sent to the fraud ring, ring members counterfeited checks based on the victims’ bank information, and sent the fictitious obligations back to the victims to deceive them.
According to the indictment and testimony in court, between January 2015 and December 2018, James T. Haynes, Jarvis K. Haynes, and Neman Zahid, in conjunction with seven other defendants, are alleged to have established corporations and limited liability companies in Mississippi and elsewhere, to have opened bank accounts for those corporations, and aided and facilitated in telemarketing scams across the United States as well as overseas. Each of the three men arraigned this week had opened bank accounts in those company names to receive and transfer money defrauded from victims. They also each withdrew and sent money from the corporate shell accounts, to themselves and overseas to fellow conspirators and ring members.
On May 20, 2020, the three men appeared for arraignment on the indictment before United States Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball in Jackson. The Court released James Haynes and Jarvis Haynes on bond, subject to conditions including that each refrain from further violations of state or federal law while awaiting trial. Neman Zahid was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals to await trial.
Each of the three men faces enhanced maximum penalties of 30 years for the conspiracy count, 30 years for each count of mail fraud and wire fraud; 40 years for each bank fraud count; 20 years for each money laundering count; a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years for each count of aggravated identity theft; and 25 years for each count of fictitious obligations. Each count also can merit a fine of up to $250,000. Federal law enhances the maximum penalties up to ten additional years under the SCAM Act (the Senior Citizens Against Marketing Scams Act of 1994), at Title 18, United States Code, Section 2326, for targeting persons over the age of 55 during listed fraud offenses in connection with telemarketing or e-mail marketing.
Trial is scheduled for June 29, 2020, at the Thad Cochran U.S. Courthouse in Jackson, Miss., before Chief U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan.
U.S. Attorney Hurst commended the work of the Special Agents with HSI’s Jackson Division who investigated the case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Theodore Cooperstein.
The public is reminded that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.