June 14, 2024

Las Vegas Woman Sentenced To Prison For $10 Million Tech Support Fraud Scheme That Exploited Elderly Victims | USAO-SDNY

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ROMANA LEYVA was sentenced to 100 months in jail for participating in a fraud conspiracy that exploited elderly victims by remotely accessing their pcs and convincing victims to fork out for laptop help products and services that they did not have to have, and which had been by no means essentially furnished.  In overall, the conspiracy generated extra than $10 million in proceeds from at minimum approximately 7,500 victims.  LEYVA formerly pled responsible just before U.S. District Choose Paul A. Crotty, who imposed today’s sentence.

U.S. Lawyer Damian Williams reported:  “Romana Leyva was a leader of a conspiracy that brought about pop-up windows to show up on victims’ computer systems – pop-up home windows that claimed, falsely, that a virus experienced infected the victims’ computer systems.  Through this and other misrepresentations, this fraud scheme deceived 1000’s of victims, several of whom are aged, into spending a complete of far more than $10 million.  Today’s sentence sends a obvious message: These who exploit the vulnerable for financial get will shell out a large price tag.”

According to the allegations contained in the Superseding Facts, court docket filings, and statements produced in court docket, together with at LEVYA’s plea continuing and sentencing:

From somewhere around February 2015 by way of December 2018, LEYVA was a member of a criminal fraud ring (the “Fraud Ring”) based mostly in the United States and India that fully commited a technical help fraud plan that exploited aged victims positioned across the United States and Canada, including in the Southern District of New York.  The Fraud Ring’s major objective was to trick victims into believing that their pcs have been contaminated with malware, in get to deceive them into having to pay hundreds or 1000’s of dollars for phony personal computer repair service services.  Over the class of the conspiracy, the Fraud Ring produced additional than $10 million in proceeds from at least 7,500 victims.

The scheme typically worked as follows.  1st, the Fraud Ring brought about pop-up windows to seem on victims’ pcs.  The pop-up windows claimed, falsely, that a virus had infected the victim’s laptop or computer.  The pop-up window directed the victim to connect with a specific telephone variety to receive complex assist.  In at the very least some circumstances, the pop-up window threatened victims that, if they restarted or shut down their laptop, it could “cause really serious problems to the program,” such as “complete data reduction.”  In an try to give the wrong appearance of legitimacy, in some cases the pop-up window integrated, devoid of authorization, the corporate logo of a properly-recognized, respectable engineering organization.  In simple fact, no virus experienced contaminated victims’ desktops, and the technical support telephone numbers ended up not connected with the reputable technology firm.  Instead, these representations ended up wrong and ended up intended to trick victims into paying the Fraud Ring to “fix” a trouble that did not exist.  And whilst the purported “virus” was a hoax, the pop-up window alone did result in numerous victims’ computer systems to fully “freeze,” therefore avoiding these victims from accessing the facts and data files in their laptop – which prompted some victims to connect with the phone selection shown on the pop-up window.  In exchange for victims’ payment of quite a few hundreds or countless numbers of bucks (relying on the specific “service” victims procured), the purported technician remotely accessed the victim’s computer system and ran an anti-virus device, which is free and out there on the Web.  The Fraud Ring also re-victimized a variety of victims, immediately after they had made payments to purportedly “fix” their tech difficulties.

LEYVA was a chief of the Fraud Ring.  Her roles in the scheme included: (1) making many fraudulent company entities that have been employed to obtain fraud proceeds from victims, (2) recruiting many others (together with as a result of misrepresentations) to sign up fraudulent company entities that facilitated the things to do of the Fraud Ring, and (3) assisting many others in environment up fraudulent company entities and financial institution accounts, including coaching them to make misrepresentations to bank workers where by essential.

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In addition to the prison sentence, LEYVA, 38, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was sentenced to 3 several years of supervised launch, forfeiture of $4,679,586.93, and restitution of $2,707,882.91.

Mr. Williams praised the New York Business office of Homeland Security Investigations’ (“HSI”) El Dorado Undertaking Force, Cyber Intrusion/Cyber Fraud Team, for its superb do the job on the investigation.  Mr. Williams also thanked the New York Metropolis Law enforcement Office for its help on this circumstance. 

This subject is remaining taken care of by the Office’s Intricate Frauds and Cybercrime Device.  Assistant United States Attorney Michael D. Neff is in demand of the prosecution.