Fraud News: Counterfeit Airbags, Workers’ Comp Premium Scheme

December 27, 2017
Missouri Man Pleads Guilty to Counterfeit Airbag Scheme

A southwestern Missouri man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to a scheme to sell counterfeit automotive airbags and components online.

This guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the IRS – Criminal Investigation division.

Aleksey Illyuk, of Ozark, Missouri, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to one count of mail fraud and one count of smuggling goods into the United States.

Illyuk admitted he sold counterfeit automotive airbags and airbag components on his online eBay stores, CarPro 417 and CarPro Electronics. Illyuk received shipments from various Chinese manufacturers of airbags, airbag covers and other items that contained the trademarks of Honda, Toyota, Chevy, Ford and other companies. Each of these imported airbags contained trademarks and markings that made it appear the legitimate holder of the trademark had manufactured the airbags. Illyuk fraudulently marketed these items as airbags that had been manufactured by the legitimate trademark holder, when he knew that the parts were counterfeit and not manufactured by the legitimate trademark holder.

Illyuk sold approximately $120,000 worth of counterfeit items to consumers throughout the United States through his online stores from Jan. 1, 2015, to Aug. 17, 2017. The fact that the airbags and the airbag components parts were counterfeit and not manufactured by the legal holders of the displayed trademark or logo on the item was never truthfully disclosed to the consumers.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Illyuk must forfeit to the government $103,000 obtained from the proceeds of his illegal scheme, as well as 150 counterfeit Toyota airbags and component parts (including 24 inflators and fully assembled airbags); 77 counterfeit Honda airbags and component parts (including 4 fully assembled airbags); 70 counterfeit Chevy/GMC airbags and component parts; 54 counterfeit Ford airbags and component parts; 207 counterfeit Nissan airbags and component parts (including 2 fully assembled airbags, 102 name plates, and 25 airbag covers); 8 counterfeit Infiniti airbag covers; 10 counterfeit Accura airbags and component parts; 13 counterfeit Hyundai airbags and component parts; 7 counterfeit BMW airbags and component parts (including 5 fully assembled airbags); 4 counterfeit Subaru airbags and component parts; 4 counterfeit Lexus fully assembled airbags; 1 counterfeit Mazada airbag and component part; and $17,000 seized by law enforcement agents.

Under federal statutes, Illyuk is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney. It was investigated by ICE HSI and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

Florida Construction Company Owner Arrested Following $700,000 Workers’ Comp Scam

Maria Cristina Romero Zelaya, owner of Miochosis Construction, Inc. was arrested for allegedly provided fictitious information when applying for workers’ compensation insurance coverage to obtain a lower premium, according to an announcement by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. As a result, Zelaya illegally avoided paying more than $700,000 in premium payments and left her employees uninsured and vulnerable to workplace injuries.

After receiving a tip that Zelaya may have falsified information, from August 2, 2016 to August 2, 2017, Department of Financial Services (DFS) investigators determined Zelaya cashed hundreds of payroll checks through local money service businesses totaling more than $5 million. The checks were found to be for various types of construction work that she withheld from her insurance company and were not covered by her workers’ compensation insurance policy.

Zelaya reported to her insurance underwriter that her company’s annual payroll was $200,000 and her company provided plastering and stucco services only. Based on this information, her workers’ compensation premium was $26,622. Had Zelaya not withheld her company’s true annual payroll and work description, the amount of her premium would have been $733,549.

Zelaya was arrested by DFS Division of Investigative and Forensic Services (DIFS) investigators and later transported to Duval County Jail December 7, 2017. She has been charged with knowingly concealing payroll, scheme to defraud and acting as an unlicensed money transmitter.

This case will be prosecuted by the Assistant State Attorney Joe Licandro of the Duval County States Attorney’s Office. If convicted, Zelaya could face up to 60 years in prison.

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