A U.S. federal jury convicted two U.S. citizens, surnamed Chavez and Oman, for their roles in a $4.5 million telemarketing scheme that defrauded victims
in the United States from a call center in Costa Rica. - Photo for illustration purposes only -

Published on Monday, July 19, 2021

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. federal jury convicted two U.S. citizens, surnamed Chavez and Oman, for their roles in a $4.5 million telemarketing scheme that defrauded victims in the United States from a call center in Costa Rica.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Chavez, 30, a citizen of Miami, Florida, and Oman, 36, a citizen of Long Beach, Washington, participated in a fraudulent telemarketing scheme in which co-conspirators, who falsely posed as U.S. government officials, contacted victims in the United States to tell them that that they had won a substantial “sweepstakes” prize.

After convincing victims, many of whom were elderly, both men received a significant amount of money from the get-go. They told victims that they needed to make a series of up-front payments before collecting their supposed prize, purportedly for items such as taxes, customs duties and other fees, the Department of Justice said in its statement.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the co-conspirators used a variety of means to conceal their true identities, including Voice over Internet Protocol technology, which made it appear as though they were calling from Washington, D.C., and other locations in the United States.
Chavez helped to transmit victims’ payments from the United States to Costa Rica, while Oman worked at the fraudulent call center soliciting victims and also collected victim funds in Costa Rica, according to the evidence presented at trial. Chavez, Oman, and their co-conspirators stole approximately $4.5 million from victims, the evidence showed.

Chavez and Oman were each convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit international money laundering and six counts of international money laundering. Sentencing has not yet been set by the U.S.

According to District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. of the Western District of North Carolina, who presided over the trial, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison per count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (USPIS) Atlanta Division, the IRS Criminal Investigation’s Cincinnati Field Office (IRS-CI), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigated the case.

The U.S. Department of Justice urges people to denounce any suspicious person or if someone has been a victim of financial fraud at the National Elder Fraud Hotline 1-833-372-8311.

This hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, is staffed by experienced professionals who provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying relevant next steps, they said in its statement.

Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals on a case-by-case basis.

"Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses," the U.S. Department of Justice said. "The hotline is staffed 7 days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. eastern time. English, Spanish and other languages are available."

What have you heard of expat victims of telemarketing schemes in Costa Rica?
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com

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