Pennsylvania News: PITTSBURGH, Puerto Rican Indicted in Payment Processing Fraud Scheme

PITTSBURGH, PA – A resident of San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

The one-count Indictment, returned on Feb. 19, named Lancelot De Montsegur, aka Patrice Berthome, 38, as the sole defendant.

According to the Indictment, De Montsegur was involved in a complex fraud that involved fraudulently processing credit card payments. The credit card companies will not allow their products and services to be used to pay for certain precluded activities, including the on-line sales of recreational and designer drugs, kratom, and CBD oil. De Montsegur participated in a conspiracy designed to conceal from the credit card companies the fact that De Montsegur and his co-conspirators used their products and services to pay for precluded activities and to subvert the internal controls the credit card companies had in place to detect and prevent this type of activity.

The fraud involved establishing shell corporations and web sites associated with the shell companies that falsely claimed that they sold a product other than designer drugs, kratom, or CBD oil. The conspirators then applied for PayPal, Stripe, Square, or merchant accounts from the credit card companies in the names of the shell corporations and the fake web sites. Once the accounts were established, they were used to process payments for designer drugs, kratom, or CBD oil. Additionally, the conspirators arranged for the credit card statements sent to the consumers to have the names of the shell corporations and telephone numbers. The conspirators set up a telephone bank to receive calls from customers questioning billings on their credit card statements, and the conspirators explained to the customers the true nature of the transactions in hopes of avoiding charge-backs that could cause the credit card companies to question the legitimacy of the transactions.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorneys Brendan T. Conway and Jeffrey R. Bengel are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


SOURCE: news provided by JUSTICE.GOV on March 12, 2019.