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Case Number: 2:22-cr-00085
Judge: Gloria M. Navarro
Court: United States District Court for the District of Nevada (Clark County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas
Description: Las Vegas, Nevada criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with telemarketing fraud.
Michael Zeto, 77, of Las Vegas, partnered with foreign telemarketers, who provided Zeto with the names, bank account numbers, and other personal information for American consumers. Many of these consumers had purchased no products or services from the telemarketers and had not authorized anyone to debit their bank accounts. Zeto used the information provided by his telemarketing partners to create fraudulent checks payable to companies he controlled and debited consumers’ bank accounts. Many of Zeto’s victims were retirees and other older adults.
“The defendant was a vital link in a scheme with foreign telemarketing partners to steal money from American victims’ bank accounts,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting older Americans from fraud and to prosecuting people who knowingly help fraudsters.”
“With our increasing use and dependency on technology, fraudsters have found new ways to scam unsuspecting Americans,” said U.S. Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada. “Americans, and Nevadans in particular, can be assured that our office is committed to investigating and prosecuting elder financial fraud scams.”
“Today's guilty plea holds the defendant accountable for his role in a multimillion dollar fraudulent check scheme that targeted the bank accounts of American consumers,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Justin Bundy of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General Chicago Division. “The FDIC-OIG remains dedicated to working with our law enforcement partners to pursue those who seek to defraud elderly and vulnerable Americans, and threaten the integrity of the banking system.”
“This conviction is the direct result of a diligent investigation by hardworking Postal Inspectors and our partners at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of Inspector General,” said Inspector in Charge Ruth Mendonça of the FDIC-OIG Chicago Division. “Working together, their perseverance unraveled the defendant’s complex scheme to defraud some of our nation’s most vulnerable victims and delivered the justice that each victim deserved. We are proud of the investigative team’s efforts to uphold the mission of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) to protect postal customers and consumers from fraudsters.”
Zeto pleaded guilty to wire fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The USPIS and FDIC-OIG are investigating the case.
Trial Attorneys Daniel Zytnick and Timothy Finley of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Anthony Lopez for the District of Nevada are prosecuting the case.
18 U.S.C. 1343 - Wire Fraud
Wire fraud is a federal crime that involves using any form of electronic communication to defraud someone. This can include using the telephone, email, or even social media. To be convicted of wire fraud, the government must prove that you:
Devised or intended to devise a scheme to defraud
Used wire communication in interstate or foreign commerce to carry out the scheme
Obtained money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises
The penalties for wire fraud can be severe. If you are convicted, you could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. If the wire fraud involved a financial institution or a federally declared disaster, the penalties could be even more severe.
Here are some examples of wire fraud:
Calling someone and pretending to be a government official in order to get them to send you money
Sending an email that contains a virus that steals someone's personal information
Posting a fake ad on social media that offers to sell something for a low price, but when the buyer sends money, they never receive the item
If you are ever accused of wire fraud, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and develop a defense strategy.
18 U.S.C. 1344(2) - Bank Fraud
Bank fraud is a crime that involves knowingly executing a scheme to defraud a financial institution. The financial institution can be a bank, credit union, or other financial institution. The scheme can involve making false statements, using forged or counterfeit documents, or otherwise misrepresenting facts in order to obtain money or property from the financial institution.
The penalties for bank fraud can be severe. If you are convicted, you could face up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. If the bank fraud involved a federally insured financial institution, the penalties could be even more severe.
Here are some examples of bank fraud:
Writing a check that you know will not clear
Applying for a loan using false information
Forging a signature on a bank document
Embezzling money from a bank account
Stealing a credit card and using it to make purchases
If you are ever accused of bank fraud, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and develop a defense strategy.
Here are some of the defenses that may be available to a defendant charged with bank fraud:
The defendant did not knowingly execute a scheme to defraud the financial institution.
The defendant did not intend to deceive the financial institution.
18 U.S.C 1028A(a)(1) - Aggravated Identity Theft; 18:2 - Aiding and Abetting
Aggravated identity theft is a federal crime that involves knowingly using someone else's identifying information to commit a crime. The crime can be any federal felony, including but not limited to:
Credit card fraud
The penalties for aggravated identity theft are severe. If you are convicted, you could face a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison, in addition to any sentence for the underlying crime. The maximum sentence for aggravated identity theft is 15 years in prison.
Here are some examples of aggravated identity theft:
Using someone else's Social Security number to get a job
Using someone else's credit card to make purchases
Opening a bank account in someone else's name
Renting an apartment in someone else's name
Filing a tax return in someone else's name
If you are ever accused of aggravated identity theft, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and develop a defense strategy.
Here are some of the defenses that may be available to a defendant charged with aggravated identity theft:
The defendant did not knowingly use someone else's identifying information.
The defendant did not intend to commit a crime.
The defendant's actions were justified by a legal defense, such as duress or necessity.
If you are facing aggravated identity theft charges, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and develop a defense strategy.
Outcome: Defendant pled guilty.