Miami, Florida - Two Peruvian nationals responsible for operating a series of call centers in Peru that defrauded and threatened Spanish-speaking U.S. residents were sentenced to serve prison time in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. On February 9, U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. sentenced Josmell Espinoza Huerta (Josmell Espinoza), 32, to serve 88 months in prison. Earlier today, Judge Scola ordered Carlos Alberto Espinoza Huerta (Carlos Espinoza), 40, to be imprisoned for 102 months.
Josmell Espinoza and his brother Carlos Espinoza pleaded guilty in late 2021 to conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud through several Peruvian call centers that they owned and operated. According to court documents, Josmell Espinoza and Carlos Espinoza co-owned and operated the JFC Peru call center in Peru. In addition, Josmell Espinoza owned and operated the Camino Al Progreso and Latin Shop call centers, and Carlos Espinoza separately owned and operated the Latinos en Accion and Latin Force call centers in Peru.
From April 2011 until July 2019, the Espinoza brothers and their co-conspirators in Peru called victims — many of whom were recent immigrants from Central America, Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries — and fraudulently threatened them with legal consequences if they did not make payments for purportedly delivered products and settlement fees for English-language classes. The defendants and their co-conspirators used false statements and threats to obtain money from victims across the United States by falsely telling the victims that they were required to accept and pay for English-language courses and other educational products and that failure to do so placed them in legal jeopardy. The defendants and their co-conspirators then falsely threatened to have their victims arrested and deported in order to collect payments from them.
In pleading guilty, both defendants admitted that they and their employees falsely claimed to be lawyers, court officials, federal agents and representatives of a so-called “minor crimes court,” which does not exist. The callers falsely threatened victims with court proceedings, negative marks on their credit reports, imprisonment and immigration consequences if they did not immediately pay for the purportedly delivered products and settlement fees. Carlos Espinoza caused victims to lose over $1.3 million, and Josmell Espinoza caused victims to lose over $700,000.
“The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch will pursue and prosecute transnational criminals who defraud vulnerable U.S. consumers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “These two sentences demonstrate that defendants who use threats to prey upon our immigrant communities will be brought to justice and held accountable in U.S. courts.”
“This case demonstrates that the long arm of justice has no limits when it comes to reaching fraudsters who prey on our nation’s most vulnerable populations,” said U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida. “We will continue to bring American justice to transnational criminals who use fear tactics and intimidation to steal money from immigrants, seniors and others who live in this country.”
“For many years, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and their law enforcement partners have investigated and prosecuted international criminal rings targeting U.S. consumers to steal their hard-earned money,” said Inspector in Charge Joseph Cronin of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Miami Division. “We will continue to aggressively pursue these criminals to ensure that they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
With Carlos Espinoza’s sentencing in Miami today, all seven defendants indicted in this matter have now pleaded guilty and been sentenced to serve terms of incarceration. Five defendants were arrested by Peruvian authorities based on a U.S. extradition request and were extradited to the Southern District of Florida in October 2020. Each of those defendants was sentenced to serve a prison sentence earlier this year. Henrry Milla was sentenced to 110 months in prison, Jerson Renteria was sentenced to 100 months in prison, and Evelyng Milla, Fernan Huerta and Omar Cuzcano were each sentenced to serve 90 months in prison. Carlos Espinoza and Josmell Espinoza evaded arrest at the time of their co-defendants’ arrests. They were subsequently located in Peru and were extradited to the United States on June 25, 2021.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch investigated the case. Senior Trial Attorney Phil Toomajian and Trial Attorney Max Goldman of the Consumer Protection Branch prosecuted the case. The Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and the Peruvian National Police provided critical assistance.