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SCAM WATCH

Gold mine scheme is alleged

January 31, 2011|By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times

Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.

Gold mine scam alleged — The presidents of two companies have been indicted, accused of fleecing investors of millions of dollars through two schemes, including one in which they allegedly made false promises of potential profits through an Alaskan gold mine, the FBI said in a news release. William C. Lange, president of Harbor Funding Group Inc., and Joseph Pascua, president of Black Sand Mine Inc., were also accused of pocketing more than $9 million they charged real estate developers in advance fees for real estate loans that were never funded, the FBI said.

Businesses bilked by malware — Cyber criminals have been targeting businesses that post jobs online, the Internet Crime Complaint Center said in a news release. The criminals attach malware to e-mails sent to the businesses, enabling them to obtain company banking information, the news release said. One U.S. business reported an unauthorized wire transfer of $150,000 related to the scheme. Companies should be careful to not open e-mail attachments from unfamiliar senders unless they first run a virus scan, the agency said.

Credit card fraud — A Chinese national has been sentenced to federal prison for using fraudulently obtained credit card numbers to make purchases at stores in the San Gabriel Valley, the U.S. attorney's office said. Tong "Steven" Zhang, 24, of Los Angeles, was sentenced Jan. 24 to 27 months in federal prison. He and two other men used the stolen numbers to make counterfeit credit cards and then recruited people to use the cards to make fraudulent purchases, prosecutors said.

Foreclosure rescue scheme — A Tacoma, Wash., man has been convicted of fraud charges for his role in a foreclosure rescue scheme that collected $800,000 from at least 250 victims, the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles said in a news release. Jeff McGrue was convicted Jan. 21 on eight felony charges related to making false representations that he could help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Not a single customer was able to save their homes, prosecutors said. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 180 years in prison, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles. No sentencing date has been set.

stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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