A pair of South Florida businessmen have been indicted by a South Florida grand jury on charges of conspiracy, fraud and extortion.
The indictment alleges that Daniel Carrasco, 54, and Federico Martin Gioja, 45, both of Miramar, operated several fraudulent businesses that targeted Spanish-speaking consumers.
A third person, Romino Tasso, was named in a civil suit by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Justice Department requested that the court issue an injunction and Southern District Judge Cecilia Altonaga issued a temporary restraining order and has frozen Carrasco, Gioja and Tasso’s assets along with the companies under their control.
“Protecting Americans from fraud continues to be a top priority for the Department of Justice,” said Stuart Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s civil division.
Carrasco and Gioja have been in jail since June 26 when they were initially arrested and charged.
Their arrest came after Univision reported to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service that they believed a company was involved in fraudulent activity and falsely claimed an affiliation with the television network. The inspection service investigated and arrested Carrasco and Gioja.
The two also allegedly claimed to sell various products including vitamins, lotions, medical insurance and English-language training products, but apparently did not deliver the products or delivered different products than consumers ordered.
When consumers took action and refused delivery of the shipments, Argentine phone-room telemarketers called and falsely threatened consumers with arrest, deportation or fines on their gas and electric bills, according to the indictment.
The criminal and civil complaints also stated that Carrasco and Gioja often changed the names of their companies to avoid consumer complaints and legal action against them.
“We are committed to investigating and prosecuting such fraudsters, both domestic and international, whose schemes defraud consumers,” Wilfredo Ferrer, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said in a statement.