Florida man charged in out-of-state computer fraud scam

A 62-year-old Apopka man has been arrested on computer fraud charges in Florida for allegedly participating in a “mystery shopper” scam that targeted victims as far away as Colorado, the Steamboat Pilot reported.

As we reported earlier this year on our Miami Criminal Attorney Blog, about one-third of all U.S. computer crimes originate in Florida. Hiring a Miami defense attorney experienced in handling federal criminal charges and computer fraud charges is necessary to build a proper defense in computer crime cases involving victims in multiple states.

In this case, the defendant faces extradition to Colorado, where authorities allege he victimized a local resident as part of a scam that involved at least two dozen victims. Steamboat Springs police contend they followed a money trail that led to the defendant, who is accused of being a middle-man in a series of computer fraud scams across the country.

He is charged with racketeering, larceny, computer crime fraud, financial transaction device fraud, criminal impostor and possession of tools for forgery, according to the media account.

Police in Colorado began the investigation in September when a local woman reported she has been defrauded of $2,500 by a man claiming to represent a mystery shopper organization. He sent her a check and told her to keep some of the money for herself and to wire the rest of the money to the defendant. She complied, but when she went to cash a second check, her bank informed her that the first check was fraudulent. The victim was out the money she wired during the first transaction.

Police claim they utilized an “unusual number of search warrants” in determining that the money went to the defendant via a wire service. Investigators contend the defendant alternately admitted to the scam and claimed to be a victim himself during several telephone conversations with authorities.

A warrant claims he admitted to 7 to 9 transactions in which he kept 10 percent of the money for himself and wired the remaining funds to another party. Police report gathering information regarding 24 victims and 29 wire transfers, which suggest the defendant received $61,967 and sent $42,774 to other parties, mostly in South Africa.