Crime

Miami company’s Peruvians admit $250,000 extortion of Spanish-speaking U.S. citizens

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Three of four Peruvians extradited to the United States in April over a call center fraud have pleaded guilty to extorting Spanish-speaking U.S. residents via threatening phone calls.

Directing their scam: Cesar Luis Kou Reyna through his Miami company Fonomundo FC, which has been renamed Logistics SD.

Reyna’s already done his time, two years and nine months, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. A sentencing date hasn’t been set yet for Jesus Gerardo Gutierrez Rojas, 37, Maria de Guadalupe Alexandra Podesta Bengoa, 38, and Virgilio Ignacio Polo Davila, 43.

The fourth member of their white-collar crime gang, Omar Alfredo Protocarrero Caceres, pleaded guilty to extortion in May. He’ll be sentenced July 16.

The Department of Justice says each of the three who pleaded guilty Wednesday admitted to running call centers that played on the fears of Spanish-speaking targets, especially elderly people. Callers portrayed themselves as lawyers or people from the United States “Legal Department” wanting to talk about nonexistent orders of products or debts that didn’t exist.

“The callers falsely threatened victims with lawsuits, negative marks on their credit reports, imprisonment, or immigration consequences if they did not immediately pay for the purportedly delivered products and ‘settlement fees,’ ” the Justice Department said. “Many victims made payments based on these baseless extortionate threats.”

Kou Reyna and Protocarrero Caceres’ admission of facts with his guilty plea said they hustled folks out of $250,000.

“If an individual who claims to be an attorney or government representative calls and instructs you to pay money to: receive products you did not buy; avoid a lawsuit; avoid imprisonment; or avoid a change in immigration status, hang up and immediately report that threat to www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Ariana Fajardo Orshan said in a statement.

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.
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