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Wire Fraud

BUSINESS
October 11, 2010 | By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times
Expensive pennies The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be wary of so-called penny auction websites, which advertise electronic products such as Apple Inc. iPads at bargain prices. Many people have complained about being charged fees as high as $150 after signing up for what was promoted as a free trial, the bureau said in a recent bulletin. Other customers have alleged that the sites use computer-programmed bots to place fake bids that drive up prices. The customers who have complained to the bureau also said they had been unable to obtain refunds, the bulletin said.
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BUSINESS
October 5, 2010 | By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times
Bankrupt real estate mogul Ezri Namvar pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he stole $23 million from clients who paid him to safeguard proceeds from real estate sales. Namvar, free on $300,000 bond, was indicted Sept. 21 on five counts of wire fraud in connection with the alleged misappropriation of money from clients of his company, Namco Financial Exchange Corp., in 2008. The indictment alleged that Namvar, 59, used the money for a variety of purposes, including making interest payments to investors in a second company he owned, Namco Capital Group Inc..
BUSINESS
September 23, 2010 | By Stuart Pfeifer and Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles real estate mogul Ezri Namvar, an Iranian immigrant who amassed and then lost billions of dollars of commercial real estate holdings, has been indicted on wire fraud charges, his attorney said. Namvar, former owner of such high-profile properties as the Marriott hotel in downtown Los Angeles and the Cal Neva resort in Lake Tahoe, was accused of five counts of wire fraud related to a company, Namco Financial Exchange Corp., that sheltered proceeds from real estate transactions, said defense attorney Marc Harris.
BUSINESS
September 22, 2010 | By Dawn C. Chmielewski, Los Angeles Times
A former administrative assistant to a top executive at Walt Disney Co. pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud charges related to her participation in an insider-trading scheme. Bonnie J. Hoxie, 34, of Los Angeles admitted in federal district court in New York to attempting to sell confidential information that she gained access to as an assistant for Disney's head of corporate communications, Zenia Mucha. According to the criminal complaint, Hoxie obtained material, nonpublic information about Disney, including advance details about its second-quarter earnings.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 21, 2010 | By Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times
Apparently acting without City Council approval, Bell spent nearly $95,000 to repay loans that then-City Manager Robert Rizzo made to himself from his retirement accounts, a draft state audit reviewed by The Times shows. The auditors found no evidence that council members even knew about the repayments, which occurred in 2008 and 2009. "We found the city's system of internal control to be nonexistent, as all financial activities and transactions revolved around one individual, the former chief administrative officer, who had complete control and discretion over how city funds were used," the auditors wrote.
BUSINESS
September 11, 2010 | Bloomberg News
Apple Inc. will stop giving away cases for the iPhone 4 to most users at the end of the month, saying the antenna problems associated with the device are less widespread than originally thought. Free cases will still be given to users who experience a problem, the Cupertino, Calif., company said Friday on its website. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs promised the free cases during a July 16 news conference in response to criticism that the newest iteration of the smart phone loses signal strength if held a certain way. Consumer Reports magazine said at the time that it couldn't recommend the device because of the problem.
BUSINESS
May 26, 2010 | By Walter Hamilton and Dawn Chmielewski, Los Angeles Times
A secretary to a high-ranking Walt Disney Co. executive thought she and her boyfriend were about to pull off an alleged insider-trading scheme — and she wanted to celebrate with a Stella McCartney handbag from Neiman Marcus. "Here is the bag that you are going to get for me," Bonnie Jean Hoxie, a secretary for Zenia Mucha, Disney's head of corporate communications, allegedly wrote in an e-mail to her boyfriend this month. After the boyfriend, Yonni Sebbag, replied that they may reap a windfall from their plot, Hoxie added to her wish list, according to court documents.
BUSINESS
March 30, 2010 | By P.J. Huffstutter
A former Safeway Inc. employee was sentenced Tuesday to spend seven months in home detention in connection with the federal investigation of defunct California tomato processor SK Foods. Michael Chavez, 52, of Fremont had pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and accepting $5,000 in bribes from an official of SK Foods, which was based in Monterey. Chavez was a corporate purchasing manager for the Pleasanton, Calif., grocery chain from 2000 to 2007, and responsible for negotiating deals for processed tomato products, court documents said.
BUSINESS
March 1, 2010 | By Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Four California men have been indicted for allegedly using their company, Wiseguy Tickets Inc., to fraudulently buy and sell tickets to popular concerts and sporting events. In a 43-count indictment, Kenneth Lowson, 40, Kristofer Kirsch, 37, and Faisal Nahdi, 36, of Los Angeles and 37-year-old Joel Stevenson of Alameda are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and gain unauthorized access to computer systems, as well as damaging computers in interstate commerce. The indictment, unsealed Monday in New Jersey, alleged that the four took in $25 million by fraudulently buying and reselling tickets for Bruce Springsteen and Hannah Montana concerts, Rose Bowl and Yankees games and other events.
BUSINESS
February 27, 2010 | By Marc Lifsher and P.J. Huffstutter
Former SK Foods owner Frederick Scott Salyer pleaded not guilty Friday to federal racketeering and corruption charges for allegedly directing a decade-long scheme to quash competition, pay bribes and sell tomato products at inflated prices. The agribusiness executive, who entered his plea in a federal courtroom in Sacramento, is charged with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, as well as conspiracy, obstruction of justice and four counts of wire fraud.
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