Florida

Phone calls from Peru got $550K from Spanish-speaking U.S. residents. The callers got prison

Spoofing: Don’t hang on, hang up

What is spoofing? Scammers falsify caller ID numbers that appear on your phone, disguising their identities as they try to steal your money or valuable personal information. Learn what you can do to avoid spoofing scams: fcc.gov/spoofing
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What is spoofing? Scammers falsify caller ID numbers that appear on your phone, disguising their identities as they try to steal your money or valuable personal information. Learn what you can do to avoid spoofing scams: fcc.gov/spoofing

Four Peruvians who ran call centers as part of a $550,000 phone scam that targeted elderly Spanish-speaking U.S. residents can call the United States home for the next few years.

Soon, you can find their addresses in the federal prison inmate locator database. Each has been sentenced in Fort Lauderdale federal court.

Jesus Gutierrez Rojas, 37, got four years, three months and $921,740 in restitution on Tuesday after pleading guilty to three counts of extortion. Also Tuesday, 38-year-old Maria De Guadalupe Alexandra Podesta Bengoa and 43-year-old Virgilio Polo Davila each got three years, 10 months each after pleading guilty to one count of extortion. Podesta owes $114,717 in restitution and Polo Davila owes $619,014.

Omar Portocarrero Caceres, 39, resides in the federal prison in downtown Miami after getting three years, 10 months for one count of extortion on July 24.

The four were arrested in late 2017 in Peru, extradited in April and pleaded guilty this summer..

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Gutierrez Rojas can credit his extra five months to rank. According to his admission of facts, as general manager of Fonomundo FC, he ran Fonomundo’s doings in Peru with Fonomundo FC owner Cesar Kou Reyna.

(Kou Reyna pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud in 2015 and has done his two years and nine months in federal prison. His admission of facts put the amount conned from victims at $250,000. State of Florida records say Fonomundo FC has been renamed Logistics SD and is run by Fiorella Gutierrez out of a Brickell-area apartment that one database listed as Kou Reyna’s January address.)

His admission said, “Gutierrez oversaw Fonomundo’s partnership with several affiliated call centers including the ones owned by Omar Portocarrero Caceres, Alexandra Podesta Bengoa and Virgilio Polo Davila that conspired with Fonomundo to contact victims to extort payments from them.”

They used modern customer databases to find their targets. Upon getting lists of Spanish-speaking U.S. consumers who had bought products from other companies, the white collar thugs had call center workers phone the consumers “and falsely claim the victims had failed to receive and/or pay for a packaged and owed a significant fine or were subjects of a lawsuit.”

On top of lies that they were attorneys from a vendor, a credit card company or from the “United States Legal Department,” they placed threats of arrest, damaged immigration status and destroyed credit ratings if the target didn’t pay the full amount. Or, the target could pay smaller amounts in installments if they paid immediately.

Sometimes, henchmen helping the scam gang sent packages to the targets. This gave the scammers something they could show a credit card company as evidence of a legitimate transaction should a target try to do a chargeback after being duped.

Kou Reyna’s admission of facts put the amount swindled at $250,000, but Guitierrez Rojas’ admission said they “caused losses of over $550,000 to many vulnerable victims across the United States.”

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.
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