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Born in 2006 as a division of Alikim Media (same parent as John Cooke), FFA is among the most extensive fraud education websites on the Internet. It’s composed of a group of ragtag (make that “seasoned”) investigators who donate their time and talent to answer questions and guide victims through the red tape of reporting frauds to the correct agencies. FFA began with the intention of handling just US cases, but the Internet is without boundaries, so the reality has been far more global in nature than we originally envisioned. The result is that each of us has gained a clearer vision of the big picture of fraud from the standpoint of the victim; plus we’ve had the satisfaction of doing some real good by following the John Cooke credo: “Fighting Fraud Through Communication and Education.”
We’d like to offer a very public THANK YOU to those investigators who have donated time and talent to help strangers connect with information, assistance, and justice. The need is ongoing. Sometimes it’s a drive-by, a factfinding interview, a speech for a senior community, a one-on-one wake up call with a “will-be victim,” a photo, a personal locate, a mail-drop confirmation — we just never know until the case lands on our desk. FFA is a people-helping-people effort, one that has already proven its worth by saving both fortunes and lives. If you’d be willing to assist, please send an email to staff@fightfraudamerica. com and include your name, contact information, geographic locale, and areas of expertise.
Here’s an excerpt from an article from AM COSTA RICA, a publication that serves an audience of largely ex-pat American and Canadian residents — who have too often been victimized by “too good to be true” investment scams. Even the Costa Rican Supreme Court was being misled — and all it took on our end was some good old-fashioned gumshoe work, some excellent contacts, and creative use of the free Toolbox function on our own website. “
…Savings Unlimited, operated by Milanes, was a high-interest investment scheme that collapsed in 2002 when Milanes fled the country.
The initial proposal is relevant because that and the current proposal both offered the downtown Hotel Europa to the estimated 500 victims who chose to pursue a case against Milanes and associates. The second proposal includes a long-term payout to the victims, so it is dependent on Milanes’ good faith. How much Milanes had to do with constructing the first proposal, if anything, is not known.
What is known is that the proposal identified Pedro Borges Fiol as executive director of the Savings Unlimited Recovery Fund, and he invited contact from former investors via ads published in a weekly newspaper. The proposal presented to the court included a letter purportedly from Citibank. That letter was a verification that a company seeking to purchase the Hotel Europa had $10 million in its account.
A Savings Unlimited investor in the United States asked a public service firm called Fight Fraud America to check out the proposal. The company filed a report in February that cast doubt on the initial proposal.
Leslie Kim, who heads Fight Fraud America, said that Citibank denied the letter came from its Fresh Meadows, New York, office. The bank said that no one with the name Michael Harripersaud, worked for the company anywhere in the world, she said. That was the name at the bottom of the letter. The financial giant launched its own investigation, said Ms. Kim.
Fight Fraud America also checked out the purported purchaser of the hotel, DFS International Limited, that was being represented by Incite International Holdings, according to the proposal. Ms. Kim reported that Incite was a new British corporation with a mail drop as an address.
The company had no supporting documents filed with the British Registry, its Web page was new, and no one at its listed Las Vegas, Nevada, location had heard of the firm when an investigator paid a call, said Ms. Kim. She deemed the firm a shelf corporation.
Eventually Fight Fraud America said it came in contact with Teresa Collo, identified as the owner of DFS International Limited. The report said that the woman had no knowledge of Borges or Incite and did not know where Costa Rica was located.
That proposal is no longer valid, and Borges could not be located to comment on who set up the purchase offer.
Now, here’s the rub. Since the JCFR began publication in 1994, we’ve been repeating a certain mantra every chance we could.
A crook … is a crook … is a crook.
So how much of a non-surprise was it to find some of the same players involved in this basically Central American scheme also involved in Florida Health Care schemes? Not at all.
Time donated to the Americans who reported this suspected fraud that occurred thousands of miles from our border? Our books show 16 hours and our incurred costs were <$40. That’s why we need your help. Together we can make a difference.
After note: Next time we’ll tell you how we recently saved a life — another day, another file.