NEW ORLEANS –JULIO CESAR RIVERA ROJAS, age 33, a resident and citizen of Mexico, was sentenced on September 16, 2020 to 18 months in the Bureau of Prisons after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud by U.S. District Court Judge Jane Triche Milazzo of the Eastern District of Louisiana, announced U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser.
As detailed in the factual basis and superseding bill of information, the defendants, from at least January 1, 2016, to the present, conspired together and with others to commit wire fraud in connection with a telemarketing scheme that targeted and victimized persons in the United States, Canada and South America. As part of the elaborate scheme, the conspirators made unsolicited phone calls to owners of resort timeshare properties to induce them to pay fees associated with the bogus sale of their property. The defendants misrepresented the existence of a buyer for their timeshare and solicited money from the victims to facilitate the sale. They solicited the timeshare owners to enter into agreements to sell their timeshares and pay for alleged “closing costs” with electronic wire transfers from banking institutions within the United States to Mexican banks. There were no interested buyers, the closings did not occur, and the timeshares were not resold. Instead, the conspirators simply pocketed the advanced fees. Of the U.S. victims, 40 were age 60 and older and the total estimated loss is at least $10,000,000.
The defendants, who are all based in Mexico, operated under the business names Planet Travel and Newport International Investments, and at other times used the following business names: Advance Travel INC, All American Real Estate, American International Investment Group, Bear Claw Travel, Best Investment Services, Champion Properties, Closing Source LLC, Equity Closing Services Group, Global Offshore Services, NSC Holding, Peach Title, Sandia Title, Travel and Acquisitions, Travel Innovations, Travel Plus Acquisitions, Travel Right, and World Travelers, Inc. All of these domain websites have been seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice.
Elder fraud complaints may be filed with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or at 1-877-FTC-HELP. The Department of Justice provides a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office of Victims of Crime at www.ovc.gov. Additional elder justice resources, training, and outreach materials can be found at the Elder Justice Website at www.elderjustice.gov.
RIVERA ROJAS, who worked as an accountant, was ordered to pay restitution of $4,000,000 USD, a fee of $100.00, and he is subject to deportation after serving 18 months. To date, one other defendant, Jesus Ledesma Bernal, was sentenced to 18 months in the Bureau of Prisons on August 4, 2020, for his role as a telemarketer in this criminal organization.
This case is the product of an extensive and ongoing investigation by special agents of Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Edward J. Rivera and Paige O’Hale are prosecuting the case.
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