A federal district court yesterday entered an order approving the last in a series of four settlements that collectively recovered nearly $5 million stolen from consumers by a transnational network of fraudsters.
The settlement represents the culmination of a civil action pursued by the United States to disrupt a bank fraud scheme and recover stolen victim funds. In a civil complaint filed on Aug. 13, 2021, the United States alleged that Guy Benoit, Edward Courdy, Harold Sobel, and more than 25 other individuals and corporations defrauded American consumers out of millions of dollars by charging unauthorized debits against their bank accounts. According to the complaint, the defendants posted unauthorized debit transactions in the name of sham corporate entities against the bank accounts of unsuspecting consumers. The defendants also used thousands of sham “micro transactions” to attempt to prevent banks from detecting the defendants’ unauthorized debits.
On Aug. 20, 2021, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter granted a temporary restraining order enjoining the fraud scheme, freezing fraud scheme assets, and appointing a receiver over corporate entities used in the scheme. In the following months, the United States obtained permanent injunctions against 28 defendants. In parallel, the receiver seized over $1 million in assets stolen as part of the fraud scheme and further recovered nearly $5 million through settlements with third parties the receiver identified as having received stolen victim funds.
“The scheme described in the government’s filings involved an elaborate plot to reach into consumers’ bank accounts and steal their hard-earned savings,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will use all of the tools at its disposal to halt practices like these, recover funds stolen from victims, and bring offenders to justice.”
“This action showcases the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s relentlessness in pursuing justice and holding individuals and corporations, both domestically and internationally, accountable for their unlawful actions,” said Inspector in Charge Eric Shen of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (USPIS) Criminal Investigations Group. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and stop sophisticated fraud schemes targeting U.S. consumers.”
The USPIS conducted the investigation in this matter. The government is represented in the civil action by Trial Attorney Michael Wadden and Assistant Director Lisa Hsiao of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit https://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch.