(Last Updated On: March 24, 2022)

SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS.SCAMScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. NEWS: Cell Phone Scam

Fifth Defendant Sentenced to Prison for Sophisticated International Cellphone FraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. Scheme

A former West Palm Beach, Florida resident who was extradited to the United States from the Dominican Republic was sentenced to 65 months in prison today for multiple criminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues. charges in connection with a sophisticated global cell phone fraud scheme that involved compromising cellphone customers’ accounts and “cloning” their phones to make fraudulent international calls.

U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division,  and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud.’s Miami Field Office made the announcement.

Braulio De la Cruz Vasquez, 54, pleaded guilty earlier to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, access device fraud, the use, production or possession of modified telecommunications instruments, and the use or possession of hardware or software configured to obtain telecommunications services.  De la Cruz also pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theftIdentity Theft Identity theft is when someone uses another person's personal identifying information, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. In both the U.K. and the United States it is the theft of personally identifiable information. Identity theft deliberately uses someone else's identity as a method to gain financial advantages or obtain credit and other benefits, and perhaps to cause other person's loss. The person whose identity has been stolen may suffer adverse consequences, especially if they are falsely held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. Personally identifiable information generally includes a person's name, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, bank account or credit card numbers, PINs, electronic signatures, fingerprints, passwords, or any other information that can be used to access a person's financial resources..  He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom of the Southern District of Florida.

According to the plea agreement, De le Cruz and his co-conspirators participated in a scheme to steal access to existing cell phone accounts, and fraudulently open new cellphone accounts, using the personal information of individuals around the United States.

De la Cruz admitted that his role in the scheme included operating a “call site” from his residence in West Palm Beach.  He admitted that he would receive telecommunication identifying information associated with customers’ accounts from his co-conspirators and use that data, as well as other software and hardware, to reprogram cellphones that he controlled.  According to the plea agreement, De la Cruz’s co-conspirators would then transmit thousands of international calls over the internet to De la Cruz’s residence, where he would route them through the re-programmed cellphones to Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and other countries with high calling rates.  The calls were billed to the customers’ compromised accounts.

In addition, De la Cruz admitted that from March 2011 through April 2013, co‑conspirators sent him more than 700 emails containing approximately 2,158 telecommunications identifying numbers associated with cellphone account holders around the United States.  He also admitted that, as part of the conspiracy, he received tens of thousands of dollars from at least one Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIPVOIP Stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol is a way to make and receive phone calls using a broadband internet connection instead of a traditional phone line.) company for fraudulently routing international calls through his call center.

De la Cruz is a citizen of the Dominican Republic.  He was arrested in the Dominican Republic at the request of the United States and then, in August 2018, extradited to Miami, where he is currently in custody.

De la Cruz is the fifth defendant to be sentenced in the case.  Previously, defendants Edwin Fana, Farintong Calderon, Jose Santana, and Ramon Batista pleaded guilty to similar charges and have already been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 36 months to 75 months.

The FBI investigated the case, dubbed Operation Toll Free, which is part of the FBI’s ongoing effort to combat large-scale telecommunications fraud.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs handled the extradition in this matter.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared M. Strauss of the Southern District of Florida and Senior Counsel Matthew A. Lamberti of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section are prosecuting the case.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Source: Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida

SCARS the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated


SCARS™ Team

A SCARS Division
Miami Florida U.S.A.

TAGS:  Cellular Scam, Cell Phone Scam, Cell Network Scam, Florida, Dominican Republic Scammers, Latino Scammers, telecommunications fraud, FBI, U.S. Attorney, Department of Justice, SCARS Scam News Now,


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It is essential that law enforcement knows about scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.

Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:

  1. Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
  2. Your National Police or FBI (www.IC3.gov)
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This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.



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