Friday, March 23, 2012

An Armenian Bank Fraud Ring Bites the Dust

[Photo from mortgage]
As a former federal prosecutor, (and, currently, as an Augusta, Georgia criminal defense lawyer), I have often predicted that, sadly, most of us will eventually become victims of identity theft.  But this week, thanks to the good work of federal prosecutors in Los Angeles, at least one organized crime ring, which focuses on identity theft and bank fraud, has "bitten the dust!"

According to various news reports, four members of an Armenian organized crime conspiracy were found guilty in Los Angeles federal court of one of the largest bank fraud and identity theft schemes in California history.  

According to reports, the enterprise was headed by one of the defendants, Arman Sharopetrosian.  The four defendants operated their criminal enterprise out of their prison cells.  They reportedly used cell phones to access Social Security numbers and birth dates of innocent victims and used the information to steal over $10 million from victims' bank accounts.  (Just imagine what they might have accomplished if they had not already been incarcerated!?)  

The defendants will be sentenced at a later date.  And they will face some really tough federal statutory and guidelines sentencing!  Each count of federal bank fraud carries with it a 30 year statutory maximum.  Also, each count of aggravated identity theft carries with it a mandatory two year prison sentence which must run consecutive to any other counts!  Hopefully, these guys also won't be allowed to keep their cell phones!

Have you ever been a victim of identity theft or fraud?  Do you know someone who has?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blago Goes To Prison: The Real "Reality Show"

[Photo of Rod Blagojevich from wikipedia]
[On the C.B.S. t.v. reality show Big Brother, when a contestant is eliminated from the competition, his or her photograph goes from color to black and white!]

Did you see the news reports about the final press conference of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich?  Yesterday, Blagojevich spoke to the news media and supporters one last time before he headed off, today, to report to a federal prison in Colorado.  Blagojevich will likely serve about twelve years of his fourteen year sentence, which he received last year following his convictions on multiple federal felony charges related to, as Blagojevich puts it, "political horse-trading."  In short, among other things, the former governor was convicted of attempting to sell the former Senate seat held by former Senator Obama.  Blagojevich is currently appealing.

But the appeals must wait.  Today, Blagojevich is headed to prison for a long time.  Although I am a former federal prosecutor, and although I have visited countless jails and prisons, fortunately, I have always gotten to go home after each brief visit.  But not the former governor.  He now faces having to adjust to a whole new lifestyle, including menial jobs, limited contact with family members, lousy food, and almost constant boredom. 

The former governor may now be scrubbing dishes or even toilets.

What do you believe would be the worst part of enduring a fourteen year prison sentence?  Of course, it is also very difficult for family members.  For Blagojevich, along with the usual difficulties, he may also miss the spotlight and holding press conferences.  What do you Blago's photo fades from color to black and white?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thieves Who Steal Girl Scout Cookies

[Photo of girl scout cookies from]
This is a special year for the Girl Scouts of the USA.  The Girl Scouts are celebrating their 100th year anniversary.  One hundred years ago, in 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded this fantastic organization in Savannah, Georgia.

Each year, around this time, we all look forward to purchasing Girl Scout cookies, including my favorites: Thin Mints, Samoas, and Tag-Alongs!  But have you heard about the sad, recent news reports of thefts and robberies being committed against girl scouts who are selling cookies?  So far, I have read about reports of such thefts occurring in Texas and South Carolina.

This is a sad state of affairs when girl scouts face such threats or danger from greedy thieves who would stoop so low!  Here's hoping that this will not occur again any time soon and that the Girl Scouts will continue to be around for another century! 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spam, Scams and Sucker Lists

[Photo of FBI Seal from wikipedia]
As you may know, we are a father and son family law and criminal defense law firm located in Augusta, Georgia.  I was also a federal prosecutor, here in Augusta, for over 20 years.  But that doesn't prevent us, at the Goolsby Law Firm, LLC, from receiving almost daily scam emails from con artists around the world claiming that they want to send us a lot of money!  Of course, the criminals are really just wanting to obtain their victims' bank account information!

How should we all react to such scams?  Frankly, even though I once prosecuted telemarketing fraud and other fraudulent schemes, I don't know!  But I do know that it is probably best to NEVER reply to any of these bogus email solicitations, because, once you do, you probably will be automatically adding your email address to what is called, in the con artists' "trade," a "sucker list." 

In other words, such con artists will often focus even more on folks who have ever replied or otherwise given any encouragement at all to their fraudulent entreaties.  They will also often sell, or trade, their "sucker lists" of potential victims with other con artists, which will make it even more likely that you will get even more spam/scam offers in the future!

So, maybe I DO know the best solution to the problem of how to deal with fraudulent emails.  In my opinion, while I would like to reply to such emails, "tell them off," and threaten to inform my friends at the F.B.I., I believe the best response, in most cases, is simply to press "delete!"

Haven't you received such fraudulent emails?  What do you think?