LAS VEGAS, Nev. (702 Times, NV Globe) – The federal judicial system sentenced a U.S. man who had lived in Ukraine to three and a half years in jail for his involvement in an international criminal business that stole money from victims’ bank accounts.
Harold Sobel, 69, assisted others in constructing bogus websites for shell corporations claiming to provide items or services such as cloud storage. They would then file unlawful charges against the victims while claiming that the charges were authorized by the banks.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that the charges to victims’ bank accounts resulted in greater scrutiny from banks, so the defendants falsified their records to the banks to hide their crimes.
The criminal business even set up a contact center in Ukraine to take complaints from victims of the thefts in order to discourage them from reporting the robberies to banks or the government.
As part of the scam, Sobel established bank accounts in the U.S. in October of 2019, including in Las Vegas. “Silver Safe Box” executed over 800,000 transactions ranging from 99 to $1.85.
Sobel wrote the script that was utilized in response to victim complaints at the contact center in order to keep as much of the stolen money as possible.
When such attempts failed, refunds would be provided to victims in another attempt to prevent them from notifying the banks or law police.
Sobel and his associates even conducted appraisals of the call center’s workers. More than $1.5 million was taken, Sobel revealed to the court.
Sobel was described as “no intellectual lightweight” in court documents, having previously worked as an insurance fraud investigator, a real estate investor, a realtor, a dental laboratory owner, a timeshare salesman, and “an employment history nearly as varied as the number of languages he comprehends.”
Sobel was previously convicted in the District of Nevada for manipulating financial transactions in 1991. He escaped to Ukraine for 15 years before pleading guilty to failing to appear and receiving a sentence of 112 days in jail.
Court documents reveal Sobel informed prosecutors he expects to pay restitution to the victims by “becoming successful very shortly,” which gave the government pause – urging the court to perhaps dissuade another such scam by providing the proper punishment.
“Nevertheless, incarceration’s past inability to fully deter defendant does not mean future incarceration would have no deterrent effect,” prosecutors stated.
“The Justice Department and our law enforcement partners will investigate and prosecute offenders who defraud Americans and U.S. financial institutions,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Frierson for the District of Nevada. “Our office will diligently work with the Department’s Consumer Protection Branch and law enforcement to use every tool at our disposal to hold fraudsters accountable regardless of where they reside and to bring justice for victims.”
Credits: Fox 5 Vegas
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