Sus­pect in $1.3 mil­lion fraud de­tained by judge

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - LINDA SATTER

A Cuban na­tional sus­pected of col­lect­ing more than $1.3 mil­lion from 784 fraud vic­tims across the United States, in­clud­ing many in Arkansas, was de­tained Fri­day in Lit­tle Rock.

“If I let him walk out of this court­house … he could, in 24 hours, be any­where in the world,” U.S. Mag­is­trate Judge Tom Ray said af­ter or­der­ing An­gel Chapotin Car­rillo, 42, to re­main in the cus­tody of U.S. mar­shals un­til his trial, ten­ta­tively sched­uled for Au­gust.

Car­rillo is one of seven peo­ple ar­rested in April in south Florida af­ter a fed­eral grand jury in Lit­tle Rock in­dicted them and three oth­ers on charges re­lated to a na­tion­wide scheme to steal nearly $9 mil­lion from un­sus­pect­ing tax­pay­ers by im­per­son­at­ing In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice agents.

The grand jury in­dicted the first two, Jen­nif­fer Va­lerino Nunez, 21, and Den­nis Delgado Ca­ballero, 39, both of Mi­ami, on June 8, 2016. The oth­ers, in­clud­ing one per­son who re­mained at large Fri­day, were added to the in­dict­ment in April. All are charged with wire fraud.

At Car­rillo’s de­ten­tion hear­ing Fri­day af­ter­noon, Agent Floyd Or­rell, one of many fed­eral agents in­volved in the mul­ti­juris­dic­tional case based in Lit­tle Rock, said Car­rillo “was iden­ti­fied as ar­guably the No. 2 or No. 3 per­son in the scheme.”

Car­rillo, who lis­tened to the pro­ceed­ings and used an in­ter­preter, asked through at­tor­ney Richard Mays Jr. to be re­leased, on elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing if nec­es­sary, un­til trial. As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Hunter Bridges ob­jected on the grounds Car­rillo, who is be­lieved to have used at least 20 aliases while trav­el­ing be­tween 17 states, is a flight risk.

Ray agreed, cit­ing Or­rell’s tes­ti­mony about Car­rillo’s abil­ity to travel eas­ily across the coun­try, us­ing false iden­ti­ties to col­lect $1,339,336 over 17 months from money-wiring ser­vices, usu­ally in Wal­Mart stores. Or­rell said the money was wired from other lo­ca­tions across the coun­try, af­ter peo­ple pre­tend­ing to be IRS agents called the vic­tims and per­suaded them they had to pay a tax debt im­me­di­ately or face le­gal ac­tion.

Or­rell said the call­ers told the vic­tims they would be ar­rested within two hours, or a law­suit would be filed against them by the end of the day, if they didn’t agree to im­me­di­ately go to their bank, ob­tain an agreed-upon amount of cash and then wire it to a spe­cific re­cip­i­ent in an­other state. Or­rell said the call­ers al­ways kept the vic­tims on the phone through­out the or­deal, threat­en­ing vic­tims with im­me­di­ate le­gal ac­tion if the call was dis­con­nected.

Once the money was sent, some­times us­ing a smart­phone app, the vic­tim would give the caller the trans­ac­tion num­ber, and a run­ner such as Car­rillo would be dis­patched to pick it up, he said.

Or­rell, an agent for the Of­fice of the Trea­sury In­spec­tor Gen­eral for Tax Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said schemers most of­ten used Wal­mart-2-Wal­mart Money Trans­fer, be­cause the ser­vice only re­quired re­cip­i­ents to sup­ply a name and ad­dress to pick up the money.

He said the money didn’t have to be sent to any par­tic­u­lar Wal-Mart lo­ca­tion, and could be picked up at any Wal-Mart in the state to which it was sent. At MoneyGram sta­tions, he said, re­cip­i­ents were re­quired to show iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and fill out a re­ceipt.

Car­rillo, us­ing false iden­ti­fi­ca­tion if nec­es­sary, some­times drove, and some­times caught a flight, to re­trieve the money, Or­rell said. He called Car­rillo one of the scheme’s “top run­ners,” ac­cord­ing to other peo­ple who have been ar­rested in the scheme.

The agent said of­fi­cial-look­ing false iden­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity cards, are be­lieved to have been sup­plied by some­one in Florida con­nected to Yos­vany Padilla, 26, one of those in­dicted in Lit­tle Rock who Or­rell iden­ti­fied as “the main leader of this par­tic­u­lar group.”

He said Car­rillo started out us­ing his own name to col­lect any­where from “a few hun­dred to a few thou­sand” dol­lars a day, from one or mul­ti­ple wire-ser­vice pickup lo­ca­tions. On one day in par­tic­u­lar, he said, records show Car­rillo used his own name to col­lect 15 wire trans­fers, each from a sep­a­rate vic­tim, in 10 stores in Winston-Salem, N.C.

On an­other oc­ca­sion, he said, Car­rillo used the alias Is­mael Hor­ton to col­lect 19 wire trans­fers in one day in Arkansas.

The agent said Car­rillo is be­lieved to have col­lected 50 wire trans­fers over a few days’ time in var­i­ous Arkansas towns in­clud­ing Lit­tle Rock, North Lit­tle Rock, Hot Springs Vil­lage, Sher­wood, Ben­ton, Cabot, Jack­sonville and He­ber Springs.

Or­rell said run­ners used dif­fer­ent sites in the same area to avoid draw­ing at­ten­tion to them­selves and be­cause some­times the scam de­pleted all the cash at one wire-trans­fer lo­ca­tion, re­quir­ing the ser­vice to keep run­ners wait­ing while it re­stocked — which made the run­ners ner­vous.

In re­sponse to the judge’s ques­tions, Or­rell said Car­rillo was brought into the United States in late Oc­to­ber 2015, with the as­sis­tance of a ci­ti­zen, and his work visa is valid through Oct. 28. The agent said many of the other peo­ple in­volved in the scam are be­lieved to have come into the coun­try through Mex­ico by seek­ing refugee sta­tus.

Car­rillo said he came to the United States “for a bet­ter fu­ture,” and worked in Florida clean­ing and do­ing other ser­vices for a yacht com­pany.

“I would like to re­main in the United States. Al­ways. It is my dream,” he said through the in­ter­preter.

Al­though he said he has a sis­ter liv­ing in Florida who is a le­gal res­i­dent, Ray in­di­cated a pre­trial ser­vices of­fi­cer in Florida re­ported Car­rillo’s fa­ther and seven sib­lings all live in Cuba, and Car­rillo had “strong fam­ily ties” in Cuba.

Car­rillo said the brothers and sis­ters he has in Cuba “are not blood brothers,” and his fa­ther is his only “blood rel­a­tive” in Cuba.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.