What caught the most famous American scammers who deceived millionaires and the US government - ForumDaily
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What got the most famous American scammers who deceived millionaires and the US government

Exactly 95 years ago, in July 1928, the last chapters of the newly written novel The Twelve Chairs were published in the literary magazine Thirty Days, which can be considered the birth of Ostap Bender, a favorite of several generations of readers. The prototype of the "great schemer" was some of the most famous swindlers of the time. Meanwhile, scammers of this type existed not only in the post-Soviet space, but also in the United States. ForumDaily has prepared only a few examples of the most striking criminal schemes and talked to people who were personally involved in the capture of scammers.

Photo: IStock

The legendary Phil Kitzer

Fraud is an unpleasant but inevitable factor in life in any country, and it is most often directed against the most vulnerable segments of the population. Russian-speaking immigrants often become victims various types of phishing, leading to the theft of personal data first, and then savings - whether it be fake offers of ways to invest or calls under the guise of a tax office. Needless to say, such swindlers do not cause any positive emotions.

However, fraudsters who deceive banks or the government traditionally receive a different attitude, especially if they add a fair amount of audacity and artistry to their “work”. An aura of "Robinhood" often forms around such people, films are made about them, and ordinary people are happy to be interested in the details of their adventures. It was such a swindler that the "American Ostap Bender" was, sparkling and elegant Philip (Phil) Kitzer, who performed international-level operations in the United States in the 1970s.

With the help of front men, Phil bought bankrupt banks and made counterfeit securities on their behalf, thanks to which his clients could receive solid loans. He robbed his victims of millions of dollars, and among them were often the owners of large banks or even the governments of individual countries.

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For example, once Kitzer stole a whole bank in London, providing its former owners with many letters of guarantee against a future payment, ostensibly from an American bank. Needless to say, no payment was ever received. Another time the legendary swindler outwitted Los Angeles authorities cashing bad checks. In a word, he really could earn the glory of Robin Hood if he spent money on socially useful needs, and not on his own beautiful life and expensive limousines.

However, at some point, luck let down an experienced swindler. Phil decided to train his assistants and bonded with two rookie con artists from Indiana, not knowing that he was dealing with undercover FBI agents. The two “feds” followed the crook all over the country and were present at all his meetings, including negotiations with representatives of the mafia. When Phil and his "partners" arrived in New York, Kitzer unknowingly led the FBI straight into the den of organized crime. As a result, he himself was arrested, as well as many of his accomplices, and simply "situational partners."

Playing Sheikh

Another victim of his own gullibility was a member of the Colombian mafia Joe Trotskyowho, together with his accomplice Fred Pro in concert 19In the 70s, he was engaged in the theft of US Treasury bonds. One fine day, an old friend and "colleague" in the criminal business approached him Mel Weinberg and offered to meet "an interesting person with a lot of money". Trotskyo and Pro at the time were planning to buy a mortgage bank in Long Island for their fraudulent operations, and the prospect of obtaining investments for this adventure seemed tempting to them.

"Investor" turned out to be an Arab sheikh Cambir Abul Raman from Lebanon, who planned to make serious investments in American financial institutions. On his behalf, a certain Myron Wagner, former Vice President of Chase Bank, who was fired for fraud. It would seem that everything looked quite natural, with the exception of one little thing: neither Sheikh Raman nor his assistant actually ever existed.

The thing is that Mel Weinberg, who had previously been caught in fraud, had already been recruited by the FBI at that time and was working undercover. The idea of ​​"sheikh" was developed by the feds, and Myron Wagner was portrayed by an FBI officer Myron Fuller. To create a fake identity, he had to resort to the help of a real vice president of Chase Bank.

Photo courtesy of Myron Fuller

«To add legitimacy to my legend, I received $3,2 million in cash to deposit into Wagner's Chase bank account. My source at the bank, in turn, could confirm the reality of the Wagner to anyone who called. To further enhance the fake background, I have prepared a letter from the Lebanese Ambassador Francis Meloywho allegedly congratulated me on my new job”, Myron said in an interview with our website.

The mafiosi believed in the legend and met with the FBI several times without hiding from him that they were planning a fraudulent deal in order to further commit crimes. As a result, instead of a profitable deal, both were arrested. The success of the Trotskyo case inspired the FBI to continue the code-named game abscam. It was she who formed the basis of the popular film ten years ago "Scam in American style". Myron Fuller continued to act on behalf of the Arab sheik to attract the attention of swindlers, members of Cosa Nostra and corrupt government officials.

It's hard to say who was the bigger crook in this situation - the FBI or the crooks they were fighting. However, over the next three years, more than 50 Mafia members, individual crooks and government employees were indicted and convicted. Six congressmen and one US senator, the New Jersey gambling commissioner, the mayor of Camden and several lower-level officials went to jail.

Myron Fuller recalls how he had to buy stolen stocks and bonds from criminals, and often FBI agents arrested the attackers right on the spot.

«This became dangerous more than once when the "objects" were armed. At some point, I had to drive for a long time to the place of sale, having fallen out of the view of outdoor surveillance. I didn't even realize it, otherwise I might have tried to escape at a convenient moment. The perpetrators did show me weapons as part of a scare tactic, but I remained unfazed and praised their security measures. Since I was calm, they agreed to continue the deal."He says.

Another time, during an operation in one of the New York hotels, the transformer through which Myron and his "partners" mafiosi were eavesdropped by agents who were nearby, did not work. As a result, the special agent had to leave the room himself under a fictitious pretext, run to his colleagues and ask them to arrest the criminals.

The game of crazy and dead souls

However, Russian-speaking immigrants also excelled in deceiving the American government. Now the most popular type of fraud in the immigrant environment is insurance scams or fake asylum cases. These types of scams follow a fairly routine pattern, but in the last century some scammers have been more creative and, surprisingly, have not been caught.

Eyewitnesses say that in the late 80s and early 90s of the last century, there was a fairly successful group on the East Coast of the United States that helped their clients ... imitate mental disorders! The attackers approached the matter professionally - they first studied the relevant medical reference books. Thanks to these peculiar “trainings”, clients received disability, and hence the social benefits and allowances associated with it, and also had the opportunity to get their relatives to work “caring for a disabled family member.” True, soon the scammers were clearly not enough for just acting, and they had to involve a professional psychiatrist in their work, who made false diagnoses.

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Went even further seminal for from Las Vegas - latisha и Timothy Harron. Latisha has registered two healthcare organizations with the government's Medicaid program, which helps cover medical expenses for people in need. The couple then searched the web for obituaries and checked them against Medicaid. Finding a person's identification number in the program, they paid for fictitious services that they allegedly provided to the deceased shortly before his death with the money of the state fund.

According to the US Department of Justice, from 2017 to 2019 alone, the family of fraudsters managed to receive over $13 million from the government for fictitious services. The only thing that let the Harrons down was the desire to show off their lifestyle. The couple began posting photos of expensive purchases on Instagram and Facebook, including Tiffany & Co products, luxury clothing and a $900 private jet, which inevitably attracted the attention of the authorities.

In short, practice shows that the vast majority of scammers get caught sooner or later. Like real artists, these people crave recognition for their talent and success, and it is this innocent need that most often leads them to jail.

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