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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

Thursday, April 19, 2018

New York Woman Pleads Guilty in Complex Fraud Scheme Involving Credit Card Payment Processing

PITTSBURGH, PA –A New York resident pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of conspiracy to commit bank, mail, and wire fraud, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Svetlana Kapralova, 30, of Astoria, New York, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge David S. Cercone.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Kapralova was involved in a complex fraud that involved fraudulently processing credit card payments. The credit card companies will not allow their products and services to be used to pay for certain precluded activities, including the on-line sales of pharmaceutical drugs and of products violating trademark infringement laws. Kapralova participated in the conspiracy designed to conceal from the credit card companies the fact she and her co-conspirators used their products and services to pay for precluded activities and to subvert the internal controls the credit card companies had in place to detect and prevent this type of activity. The fraud involved establishing shell corporations and web sites associated with the shell companies that falsely claimed that they sold a product other than pharmaceutical drugs or products that violated trademark infringement laws. The conspirators then applied for merchant accounts from the credit card companies in the names of the shell corporations and the fake web sites. Once the merchant accounts were established, they were used to process payments for pharmaceutical drugs or products that violated trademark infringement laws. Additionally, the conspirators arranged for the credit card statements sent to the consumers to have the names of the shell corporations and telephone numbers. The conspirators set up a telephone bank to receive calls from customers questioning billings on their credit card statements, and the conspirators explained to the customers the true nature of the transactions in hopes of avoiding charge-backs that could cause the credit card companies to question the legitimacy of the transactions.

Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for August 31, 2018 The law provides for a total sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Brendan T. Conway is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations, Pennsylvania State Police, and United States Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Kapralova.

Financial Fraud
Updated April 19, 2018