Lockport Woman Sentenced On Wire Fraud Charge For Her Role In Debt Collection Scheme
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
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BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Shauniqua Rodriguez, 41, of Lockport, NY, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, was sentenced to serve 12 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura A. Higgins, who handled the case, stated that between January 2014 and February 2017, Rodriguez conspired with others in a debt collection scheme that was spearheaded by co-defendant Joseph Ciffa. Specifically, defendant was an intermittent employee of the debt collection agency, which operated under various names, including Lakeside Mediations, Lincoln Mediation, Valentine Legal Mediation, First Point Mediation, State Filing and Legal Services, and Elite Services. Rodriguez placed telephone calls to “debtors” throughout the United States, using various fraudulent tactics and misrepresentations, including false representing her identity, false threating arrest, and fabricating criminal charges against the “debtors” in order to induce them to make payments. The “debtors” were often directed to other employees posing as attorneys and were provided with payment instructions, supposedly to settle their outstanding debts. In addition to making collection calls, defendant also served as an informal trainer for other, less experienced employees.
Rodriguez and the employees she worked with and trained routinely collected on debts which they knew had already been satisfied, and collected money from “debtors” from whom they had already collected payment, who were deemed to be “easy targets.” “Debtors” were instructed to make payment to the various debt collection businesses through various means, including MoneyGram payments, bank wire transfers, and debit/credit card payments. Between 2015 and 2016, the debt collection scheme brought in more than $3,000,000.
Rodriguez is one of five defendants to be convicted in this case, and the third to be sentenced.
Today’s sentencing is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special-Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office; and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Boston Division Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin.
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