Brazilian national sentenced to 4 years in prison for $ 15 million prepayment program; additional charges exposed against 4 co-conspirators | USAO-SDNY

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Audrey Strauss, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector in Charge of the New York Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced that JOAO DJALMA PRESTES JUNIOR, a / k / a “Joao Pereira”, a Brazilian national, was today sentenced to 48 months in prison after pleading guilty to defrauding Brazilian companies of about $ 15 million through an international program of advances on costs. PRESTE JUNIOR was arrested in June 2020 and pleaded guilty in April 2021 before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who imposed today’s sentence.

In addition, alternative indictments were released today charging co-conspirators HERMINIO RIBEIRO DIAS CRUZ, JUAN CARLOS VILLALBA, ROSE MARTINS DE OLIVEIRA and ALEX PEREIRA DE SOUTO of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud under the same international upfront fee program. CRUZ, VILLALBA, DE OLIVEIRA and DE SOUTO are still on the run.

Manhattan US attorney Audrey Strauss said, “Partly through face-to-face meetings with victims in a Manhattan skyscraper, Joao Djalma Prestes Jr. stole millions of dollars from businesses in the United States. search for loans. Prestes Junior will now spend four years in prison in the United States for these crimes. As alleged, Prestes Junior did not work alone. His four alleged fugitive co-conspirators in this multi-million dollar international advance program have now been charged. “

USPIS Inspector Philip R. Bartlett said: “Postal inspectors usually see the scams ahead of time related to lottery fraud. However, in this case, the victims would have been tricked into paying fees up front to secure business loans. The defendants are said to have used the victims’ money to finance their opulent lifestyle. Postal inspectors remind those looking for loans to do their due diligence when you have to pay money to get money.

Based on public documents and court proceedings in the case against PRESTES JUNIOR, CRUZ, VILLALBA, DE OLIVEIRA and DE SOUTO, including allegations contained in previous indictments[1]:

From at least July 2018 up to and including February 2020, PRESTES JUNIOR participated in a scheme to defraud companies based in Brazil of millions of dollars through an advance fee system.

As part of the scheme, PRESTES JUNIOR and his co-conspirators falsely portrayed that the victims would receive a large loan after pre-paying various fees to entities that, unbeknownst to the victims, were controlled by the conspirators. To implement the scheme, PRESTES JUNIOR and its co-conspirators set up several shell companies (and accompanying websites) in the United States: a purported financial entity, a purported escrow company, and a purported escrow entity. assurance. The accused and his co-conspirators ordered the victims to pay advances to the escrow company and the insurance entity. After the initial payments were made, the accused and his accomplices falsely stated that there was a barrier to transferring the money from the loan to the victim – such as a tax payment – and that the barrier could be overcome. if the victim made yet another advance. Payment. In the end, despite paying one or more of these fees in advance, the victims never received the promised loans and the money paid in advance was never repaid.

PRESTE JUNIOR also took executives of the victimized businesses to New York, New York for in-person meetings at a suite in a downtown Manhattan skyscraper, which was allegedly the New York office of the financial entity. However, in its interactions with the victimized companies, PRESTES JUNIOR used a pseudonym, “Joao Pereira”, due to the notoriety of the accused in Brazil, where the accused was previously the subject of largely criminal proceedings. publicized.

Money stolen from victims was used in part to fund PRESTE JUNIOR’s lavish lifestyle. For example, although PRESTE JUNIOR did not even live in the United States full time, he owned a Maserati there.

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In addition to the prison sentence, JOAO DJALMA PRESTES JUNIOR, alias “Joao Pereira”, 48, a Brazilian national, was ordered to confiscate $ 15,266,679.10 and return $ 15,266,679.10.

HERMINIO RIBEIRO DIAS CRUZ, 76, a Portuguese national, JUAN CARLOS VILLALBA, 56, a Paraguayan national, ROSE MARTINS DE OLIVEIRA, 61, a Brazilian national, and ALEX PEREIRA DE SOUTO, 40, a Brazilian national, are each charged with one charge. wire fraud, in violation of 18 USC § 1343, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 USC § 1349, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The potential maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any conviction of these defendants would be determined by a judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of USPIS.

This case is being handled by the General Crimes Unit of the Bureau. Assistant United States Attorney Micah F. Fergenson is in charge of the prosecution.


[1] As the introductory sentence indicates, the entire text of the Prior Indictments and the description of the Prior Indictments set out in this press release constitute allegations only, and each fact described should be treated as an allegation. .

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