September 29, 2022

ACN Center

Area Control Network

Restraining Order Entered Against Florida Operators of Technical-Support Fraud Scheme Targeting Seniors

14 min read

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has ordered Florida company, Windows Service Center LLC, and its owner and operator, Erica Herson, 41, of Miami, to stop operating a technical-support fraud scheme that is alleged to have defrauded elderly and vulnerable U.S. victims out of over $1 million.

In a complaint filed on March 30, the United States alleges that Herson operated a scheme through Windows Service Center, as well as through her prior company USEL Support LLC, in which she contacted individuals over the phone and convinced them to purchase overpriced and unnecessary technical support services and anti-virus software by falsely claiming that their computers were infected with viruses or malware or were accessed by hackers. The complaint alleges that, in reality, Herson had no specific knowledge of the security of the victims’ computers prior to making the calls.

The complaint also alleges that Herson charged victims thousands of dollars for the installation of software that is available online for free or for a low cost. In addition, the complaint alleges that once a victim had made a purchase from USEL Support, Herson and USEL Support contacted that same victim repeatedly to try to obtain further payments by falsely claiming that the victim’s computer had additional security problems. The complaint alleges that Herson is continuing the same technical support fraud scheme through her new company, Windows Service Center.

“Technical support fraud schemes often prey on America’s seniors, exploiting their fear of online threats to steal their hard-earned savings,” said Principal Deputy Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to using all tools available to protect seniors from telemarketing fraud, whether those fraudulent phone calls are coming from call centers abroad, or from right here in the United States.”

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will hold accountable anyone engaging in schemes to defraud our seniors,” said U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida. “We urge the public to avoid giving computer access to unsolicited callers claiming a computer needs repair, to use caution before clicking on links in emails or on social media and to report suspected fraud to the appropriate authorities.” 

“Schemes of this nature target our elderly citizens under the guise of helping them,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division. “The FBI works hand-in-hand with our law enforcement partners to dismantle crimes and scams like these, and we will bring to justice those fraudsters who commit them. Protecting our nation’s senior and vulnerable citizens is of the utmost importance to the FBI.”

The temporary restraining order entered March 31 prohibits Herson and Windows Service Center from engaging in telemarketing activity related to computer or software technical support and from accepting consumer payments related to any computer or software technical support service.

This case is being handled by Trial Attorneys Amy Kaplan and Ann Entwistle of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney James A. Weinkle for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida.

The department’s extensive and broad-based efforts to combat elder fraud seeks to halt the widespread losses seniors suffer from fraud schemes. The best method for prevention, however, is by sharing information about the various types of elder fraud schemes with relatives, friends, neighbors and other seniors who can use that information to protect themselves.

The public can report suspected fraud to law enforcement and file a complaint at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/ and/or www.ic3.gov/Home/FileComplaint.

If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This Department of Justice 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. 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 hotline is staffed seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. ET. English, Spanish and other languages are available.

Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts may be found at www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. Information about the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available at www.justice.gov/elderjustice.

More from: April 5, 2022

  • Honoring Anticorruption Champions
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Group Home Owners Convicted in $1 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A federal jury convicted a Texas husband and wife yesterday for a $1 million Medicare fraud scheme, including violations of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute.

    [Read More…]

  • Former Acting Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Pleads Guilty to Scheme to Defraud the U.S. Government
    In Crime News
    A former Acting Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) pleaded guilty today to federal charges stemming from the theft of proprietary software and sensitive databases from the U.S. government.

    [Read More…]

  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Australian Foreign Minister Payne
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Deputy Secretary Wendy R. Sherman At a Press Availability
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Wendy R. Sherman, Deputy [Read More…]
  • Former Construction Company Owner Indicted for Defrauding Federal Program Intended for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
    In Crime News
    Today, a federal grand jury in San Antonio, Texas, returned an indictment charging the former owner of several companies in the construction industry for his role in a long-running scheme to defraud the United States.

    [Read More…]

  • Global Food Security: Improved Monitoring Framework Needed to Assess and Report on Feed the Future’s Performance
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Feed the Future (FTF), a U.S. government–wide global food security initiative coordinated by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), collects data to monitor how FTF projects promote agriculture, resilience, and nutrition (see photos). However, USAID and its FTF partner agencies are limited in their ability to use performance data to assess the initiative’s progress because they have not set FTF-wide performance goals and few FTF indicators fully meet two key attributes of successful performance indicators. Specifically, only three of 40 performance indicators both (1) were clearly linked to the initiative’s overarching goal and (2) had measurable targets. FTF has targets for its overarching goal of reducing poverty and child stunting; however, the FTF agencies cannot determine how the results of FTF’s projects contribute to this overarching goal. USAID officials said it is difficult to set FTF-wide performance goals and targets because of the initiative’s breadth. However, prior GAO work provides strategies to help the agencies conduct meaningful FTF-wide performance monitoring. Examples of Feed the Future’s Agriculture, Resilience, and Nutrition Projects USAID’S 2017–2020 public reports on FTF include some information on FTF’s projects, but contain unclear and unsupported statements on its progress. USAID followed two of four leading practices on performance reporting by including baseline or trend data and discussing data limitations in the FTF reports. However, the reports did not describe how the performance data align with and can be used to assess progress toward FTF’s objectives—another leading practice. Further, the reports did not outline performance targets so readers could compare the performance data against these targets, also a leading practice. Lastly, although the reports stated that FTF has led to estimated decreases in poverty and stunting, FTF data do not support these statements on FTF’s impact. As a result, FTF’s public reports do not communicate a clear picture of the initiative’s progress toward achieving its objectives. As required by law, USAID developed a process to assess countries’ potential to graduate from being an FTF target country, but USAID has not fully followed this process. USAID developed annual scorecards to assess the countries; however, due to a bureau restructuring and the COVID-19 pandemic, USAID has not shared the 2019 or 2020 scorecards with its missions or the FTF partner agencies. USAID also has not worked with these entities to complete required annual reviews of the graduation assessment process itself. As a result, USAID has limited the partners’ engagement in, and the usefulness of, this process. Why GAO Did This Study The United Nations reported that nearly 690 million people in the world were undernourished as of 2019, and estimated that food insecurity could worsen due to COVID-19. In response to the Global Food Security Act of 2016, FTF agencies monitor and report the progress of their global food security assistance and developed a process to graduate FTF target countries from the initiative. GAO was asked to review U.S. global food security assistance. This report evaluates, among other things, USAID’s monitoring and public reporting of FTF’s progress and assessment of countries’ potential to graduate from FTF. GAO reviewed FTF documents and data, and interviewed representatives of USAID, FTF partner agencies, and other stakeholders, including implementing partners from four sample countries selected based on factors such as geographic diversity and amount of food security funding.

    [Read More…]

  • Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at Justice Department Leadership Meeting with State and Local Election Officials on Threats to Election Workers
    In Crime News
    More from: August 26, [Read More…]
  • Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton Delivers Remarks at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Fourth Annual National Cybersecurity Summit
    In Crime News
    Good afternoon. My name is Brian Boynton and I am the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division at the Department of Justice. 

    [Read More…]

  • Houston Area Residents Charged with Unlawfully Possessing Full Auto Switches
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury has returned an indictment against the man accused of shooting three Houston police officers as well as several unrelated cases involving unlawful possession of firearms with “Glock switches” or other violations, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery along with Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Chief Troy Finner of the Houston Police Department (HPD), Sheriff Ed Gonzalez of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and U.S. Marshal Michael O’Conner of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS).

    [Read More…]

  • Department Press Briefing – January 31, 2022
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Niger Travel Advisory
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • United States and Japan Hold Bilateral Security Discussions
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Owner of Oil Chem Inc. Pleads Guilty to Violating the Clean Water Act
    In Crime News
    The president and owner of Oil Chem Inc. pleaded guilty in federal court in Flint, Michigan, to a criminal charge of violating the Clean Water Act stemming from illegal discharges of landfill leachate — totaling more than 47 million gallons — into the city of Flint sanitary sewer system over an eight and a half year period.

    [Read More…]

  • Special Operations Forces: Additional Actions Needed to Effectively Manage the Preservation of the Force and Family Program
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has established minimum requirements for its Preservation of the Force and Family (POTFF) program to improve the readiness and resilience of Special Operations Forces (SOF) and their families, but has not clearly defined a key term—integrated and holistic system of care—to guide implementation of its efforts across the five POTFF domains (see figure). SOCOM officials interpret this key term differently and SOCOM guidance does not provide clarity on how subordinate commands should implement activities to achieve it. Without defining an integrated and holistic system of care or how to achieve it, SOCOM leaves interpretation of the term to subordinate commands and is unable to establish a standard for POTFF’s essential coordination functions or activities against which it can assess efforts to help SOF and their families. Preservation of the Force and Family Domains The POTFF program offers a range of services for SOF, but availability and access vary. Participants in GAO focus groups had mixed experiences with POTFF, with some benefitting from services and others lacking access in certain areas, such as spiritual services. SOCOM data indicated that the number and type of POTFF service providers varies by domain and location. Additionally, SOCOM uses an allocation model that does not consider the data required by POTFF guidance, and it lacks a deployment strategy to guide POTFF service provider distribution. Without an allocation model informed by data and a deployment strategy for distributing POTFF service providers aligned to that model, SOCOM will continue to rely on incomplete information to make decisions and may not be able to ensure that service providers are distributed where they are most needed. While SOCOM is upgrading its POTFF data system to one designed to be more capable, the command does not have clear data governance or management guidance. Although SOCOM Directive 10-12 defines minimum data collection requirements for all SOCOM POTFF domains, it lacks standardized data elements. Additionally, according to officials, although SOCOM worked with service component staff to standardize data as much as possible, it had difficulty reaching agreement on which standards to follow. Without guidance that establishes data governance and management for the POTFF program, SOCOM will continue to struggle to define and collect quality data. Why GAO Did This Study For nearly 2 decades, the Department of Defense has increased its reliance on SOF, pushing some to the limits of their physical and mental well-being. To help these special forces and their families, SOCOM established the POTFF program in 2013. In fiscal year 2021, SOCOM expected to make about $80 million available for POTFF program activities and maintained over 800 POTFF service providers across 32 locations worldwide to care for SOF and their families. House Report 116-442 included a provision for GAO to review the POTFF program. GAO evaluated, among other things, the extent to which SOCOM has provided subordinate commands with guidance on POTFF implementation, made POTFF services available and accessible to SOF, and developed an overarching vision for effective data usage for the POTFF program. GAO reviewed SOCOM policies and guidance and analyzed information on POTFF services and service providers. GAO also held focus groups with SOF personnel and interviewed officials managing the program.

    [Read More…]

  • Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO FoundOverlap and fragmentation among government programs or activities can be harbingers of unnecessary duplication. In this report we include 81 areas for consideration drawn from GAO’s prior and ongoing work. We present 34 areas where agencies, offices, or initiatives have similar or overlapping objectives or provide similar services to the same populations; or where government missions are fragmented across multiple agencies or programs. We also present 47 additional areas—beyond those directly related to duplication, overlap, or fragmentation—describing other opportunities for agencies or Congress to consider taking action that could either reduce the cost of government operations or enhance revenue collections for the Treasury. All of these areas span a range of agencies and government missions: agriculture, defense, economic development, energy, general government, health, homeland security, international affairs, and social services. Collectively, by reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation and addressing these other cost savings opportunities, the federal government could potentially save billions of tax dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services—but these actions will require some difficult decisions.Go to Report at a Glance to view the table summarizing all 81 areas we include in this report. The areas identified in this report are not intended to represent the full universe of duplication, overlap, or fragmentation within the federal government.Why GAO Did This StudyThis is GAO’s first annual report to Congress in response to a new statutory requirement that GAO identify federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives, either within departments or governmentwide, which have duplicative goals or activities. Congress asked GAO to conduct this work and to report annually on our findings. (See Pub. L. No. 111-139, § 21, 124 Stat. 29 (2010), 31 U.S.C. § 712 Note.) This work will inform government policymakers as they address the rapidly building fiscal pressures facing our national government.Objectives(1) identify federal programs or functional areas where unnecessary duplication, overlap, or fragmentation exists, the actions needed to address such conditions, and the potential financial and other benefits of doing so(2) highlight opportunities for additional potential savings or increased revenues.

    [Read More…]

  • The United States Announces Additional Humanitarian Assistance for the People of Afghanistan
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • On the First Anniversary of the Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi 
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Army Working Capital Fund: Army Faces Challenges in Managing Working Capital Fund Cash Balance during Wartime Environment
    In U.S GAO News
    The Army Working Capital Fund (AWCF) collected over $16 billion for goods and services provided to customers in fiscal year 2009. Cash generated from sales is used by AWCF to cover its expenses such as paying employees. In light of the Army’s changing role in the Middle East, GAO was asked to determine whether (1) AWCF’s monthly cash balances fell within the Department of Defense’s (DOD) cash requirements for fiscal years 2000 through 2009, (2) the cash transfers resulted in AWCF’s monthly cash balances falling below the minimum amount required by DOD, and (3) the AWCF’s projected monthly cash balances are expected to fall below DOD’s minimum cash requirement for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 and actions the Army can take to manage those balances. To address these objectives, GAO (1) reviewed relevant DOD guidance, (2) obtained and analyzed AWCF budget and accounting reports containing cash information, and (3) interviewed DOD and Army officials.GAO analysis showed that the AWCF monthly cash balance fluctuated significantly between fiscal years 2000 and 2009 and exceeded the maximum cash requirement prescribed by DOD regulation for 94 out of 120 months. The fluctuations were due to differences between receipts and disbursements, including the (1) receipt of collections from AWCF operations, (2) appropriations received in support of the wars, (3) disbursements made to pay for AWCF expenses, and (4) transfers made to fund other Army requirements. The Army transferred $4.8 billion out of AWCF from fiscal years 2004 through 2009. Most of the transfers funded requirements of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, or military personnel costs. These transfers helped to reduce the cash balance, but also resulted in the AWCF cash falling below the minimum cash requirement for a 6-month period in fiscal year 2006. GAO analysis of the AWCF fiscal year 2011 budget and cash plan showed that the projected monthly cash balances for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 would exceed DOD’s minimum cash requirement for 22 out of 24 months. While the Army does not expect a cash shortfall due primarily to an increase in military build-up activities in Afghanistan, a cash shortfall may occur if certain Army actions are not implemented and monitored effectively. These actions include (1) reducing AWCF obligations to less than the amount of inventory sold, (2) collecting funds from Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) for inventory items transferred from AWCF to DLA, and (3) reducing the amount of inventory at industrial operations activities. Further, the relevant DOD Financial Management Regulation lacks sufficient clarity to determine the appropriate level of inventory to be held at these activities.

    [Read More…]

Source: Network News
Area Control Network

Copyright © 2022 ACN
All Rights Reserved © ACN 2020

ACN Privacy Policies
ACN TOS
Area Control Network (ACN)
Area Control Network
Area Control Network Center