News


Florida Department of Law Enforcement Agents Arrest Man And Woman Who Are Accused of Defrauding Victims Out of Money For Property, Automobiles And Conned Others Out of Money For Visas

11/6/2007
 
Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents have arrested a South Florida woman who at times allegedly posed as a federal court employee and defrauded others out of money for cars, property and visa documents. Another participant in the fraud schemes also was charged.

Carmen Luisa Alvarez, also known as Carmen Reyes and Carmen Morales, 49, of Miami, was arrested today and charged with one count of organized scheme to defraud; four counts of grand theft in the third degree; three counts of grand theft in the second degree; one count of grand theft in the first degree; and two counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle. Alvarez will be transported to the Turner Guilford Knight Detention Center.

Alejandro Pascual, also known as Alex Mojica, 31, of Miami, also was arrested today on the same charges. Agents said Pascual was one of Alvarez’s partners in the alleged schemes. Pascual also will be taken to TGK.

Special agents said the investigation began in April 2005 and involved six victims who were defrauded out of more than $450,000. In the various schemes, Alvarez, who at times allegedly wore some type of identification badge and misrepresented herself as a federal court employee, told several of the victims that she could help them in quickly obtaining United States visas for foreign visitors. The fee was $5,000 per person.

In these cases, Alvarez allegedly told the victims that she could help them get the documents so their families could come to the U.S. from Nicaragua, Cuba and Guatemala. The victims paid their money to the scheme participants but they never received any visa documents, agents said.

In another scheme, Alvarez allegedly told the six victims that she had access to court records and could help them obtain discounted properties that had been forfeited or seized by the government. Agents said that Alvarez reportedly told the victims that the homes only were available to federal employees and their relatives.

To further the property scheme, Alvarez allegedly showed pictures and brochures of some of the homes and provided information on the properties. Alvarez allegedly stressed to the victims that they had to move quickly on the properties. Deposits were then collected on the homes and the victims were promised the properties following a federal housing auction.

These victims also were urged to buy furniture, laptop computers, plasma televisions and other items to put in the homes so that the properties would appear occupied so that others would not bid on them at the auctions.

Once these items were bought by the victims, they reportedly were kept by those involved in the schemes and never were placed in any residences, agents said. In reality, none of the properties discussed by Alvarez were available to the victims and the victims were defrauded out of their deposits and the items they had bought for the homes, agents said. Their losses were in excess of $447,000.

In another fraud scheme involving cars, Alvarez and other scheme participants reportedly drove different vehicles to meet with the victims. At that time, the victims were told they could place orders to buy these vehicles, which they thought were repossessed and seized vehicles. The victims were told they could choose a car or buy whatever vehicle was available.

In all of the fraud schemes, which usually were completed within six weeks, no visas, homes, cars or furnishings ever were provided to the victims. The victims’ losses ranged from $16,000 to $188,000, agents said. The investigation is continuing with the assistance of the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office. Today’s arrests took place with the assistance of the Miami-Dade Police Department. Anyone with information on this case is asked to call FDLE Special Agent Tatiana Miguel at (305) 470-5500.

For more information, contact:

Paige Patterson-Hughes
Public Information Officer
FDLE - Miami
(954) 958-5400