Fairfax County police arrested a Gainesville woman today (Wednesday) for reportedly posing as an attorney in a fraud scheme that particularly targeted Latino immigrants.
Jasmine Moawad, 45, has been charged with two counts of obtaining money on false pretense, felony charges that collectively carry a possible sentence of up to 20 years in jail and fines of up to $200,000, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano says.
Moawad was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center and later released on a $8,000 unsecured personal recognizance bond, according to police.
Descano joined Fairfax County Police Department officials at the county’s public safety headquarters this afternoon to urge community members to come forward if they have additional information related to the ongoing investigation.
“We are here today to encourage anyone who has more information about this matter to please come forward,” Descano said. “I want to especially make clear to members of our community who may feel that they’ve been ignored by the criminal justice system that we take crimes against them very seriously.”
Descano says his office hasa community trust policy that prohibits prosecutors and staff members from assisting federal immigration authorities with civil enforcement cases.
“If you have relevant information, you do not need to fear ICE or deportation if you come forward,” Descano said. “We have no tolerance for individuals who prey on our immigrant neighbors, because immigrant neighbors make our community whole, and my office will do everything in its power to safeguard Fairfax County’s immigrant communities.”
According to Capt. Ron Manzo, commander of the FCPD’s criminal intelligence division, police started investigating Moawad after an acquaintance of one of two identified victims contacted police “out of concern for the welfare of the victim.”
The FCPD says Moawad represented herself as an attorney with an organization called Americanos for America Party Incorporated and claimed that she would provide legal assistance for immigration cases.
According to police, Moawad utilized rented office space in the Tysons area and obtained clients through referrals and by advertising with fliers in restaurants, laundromats, and other venues. She then charged them for services that were never rendered and that she is not qualified to provide.
Manzo says detectives have identified two victims so far but are aware of five.
“Amongst victims that have been identified thus far, detectives have determined a pattern that suggests Ms. Moawad targeted racial and ethnic minority community members and, specifically, Latino immigrants,” FCPD Deputy Chief for Investigations and Operations Support Lt. Col. Thomas Ryan said. “Exploiting fear and offering a promise of hope to unsuspecting victims through deceit and misrepresentation will not be tolerated against any member of our community.”
Fairfax County police are working with Virginia State Police and Prince William County, where Moawad resides, on the investigation.
The FCPD is asking potential victims to call 703-802-2750. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the department’s Crime Solvers site by phone (1-866-411-TIPS), online, or by texting “FCCS” plus tip to 847411.
“Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 if their information leads to an arrest,” the FCPD says.
Descano says this type of crime is a priority for his office, which will expand with 15 additional positions in the county budget for the next fiscal year.
“I think it’s very important that all members of the Fairfax County community know that they have a justice system working for them and an elected commonwealth’s attorney who’s going to take their issues seriously,” Descano said. “That’s why it’s so important that we get this message loud and clear out there, because if there are other victims, we want to get justice for those individuals as well.”
Phase 2 of COVID-19 Vaccinations Begins — Fairfax County officially entered Phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout yesterday, making everyone 16 and older eligible. With the county retiring its registration system, appointments can be scheduled directly with providers through VaccineFinder, though limited supplies means they might be initially hard to come by. [Fairfax County Health Department/Twitter]
Man Found Dead in Bailey’s Crossroads — An Alexandria resident has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder after a man was found dead around 3:30 a.m. in a parking garage in the 5100 block of Leesburg Pike in Baileys Crossroads. Hernan Leiva, 58, of Falls Church had apparent stab wounds and blunt force trauma to his upper body. [FCPD]
Descano Seeks to Vacate Convictions by Fairfax County Police Officer — “Fairfax County prosecutors are moving to throw out more than 400 criminal convictions based on the testimony or work of a former patrol officer who is accused of stealing drugs from the police property room, planting drugs on innocent people and stopping motorists without legal basis, court filings show.” [The Washington Post]
Pharmacy Workers Sentenced for $8 Million Fraud — Six people have been sentenced to prison for healthcare fraud that involved paying and receiving kickbacks and billing health care benefit programs for expensive, unnecessary drugs and equipment. One defendant owned several pharmacies in Northern Virginia, including the now-closed Medex Health Pharmacy in Merrifield. [U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia]
Park Road in McLean Closed for Pipe Replacement — “Park Road between Kirby Road and Old Dominion Drive, and Vermont Avenue between Massachusetts Avenue and Park Road will be closed to through traffic, weather permitting, from 7 a.m. Monday, April 19 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, and then have daily closures Wednesday, April 21 through Friday, April 23 and Monday, April 26 through Tuesday, April 27 to replace a stormwater pipe.” [VDOT]
George Mason High School Demolition Still Underway — “As the demolition of the OLD George Mason H.S. continues, the old Science Wing and Facilities Shop is no more.” [FCCPS Office of Facilities Services/Twitter]
Vienna police are investigating a variety of recent crimes — from ice cream cake theft to alleged fraud.
Juan Vazquez, a spokesperson for the Vienna Police Department, told Tysons Reporter that a 10-inch ice cream cake was swiped from Dairy Queen (304 Maple Avenue W.) on Tuesday (Jan. 28).
An employee at the Dairy Queen told police that two men came to the store around 3:30 p.m. that day and fled with the cake they had taken from the freezer, according to the police report.
The cake was white with red icing and cost $24.99, Vazquez said, adding that the suspects are described as “two black males, ages 50-60.” Vazquez said that the men left in a car.
In a separate incident, Vienna police are looking for whoever broke the lock on a shed and damaged property belonging to the Vienna Little League in Yeonas Park (1319 Ross Drive SW).
Police say the unlawful entry happened sometime between 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26, and noon on Tuesday, Jan. 28.
Vazquez said that green powder was thrown onto the equipment in the shed and contents of trash cans were emptied onto the private property.
“Someone’s got to clean all the stuff,” Vazquez said, adding that he didn’t know if he powder caused permanent damage or not to the equipment.
Vienna police are investigating a report of fraud that happened after a female resident went to pay the family’s mortgage with a check at the PNC Bank (353 Maple Avenue).
“She gave the check to a female at the bank” around 3 p.m. on Dec. 23, the police report said.
An employee from Burke & Herbert, the bank which the couple holds an account with, noticed that the check had been made cashed outside of Virginia and was made payable to a person instead of the mortgage company, the report said.
The Vienna Police Department was contacted on Jan. 10, when the woman and her husband were informed their payment was never received, according to police.
A spokesperson from the Vienna Police Department said no one has been arrested in association with the case yet and declined to provide more information on the incident because it is an active investigation.
Tysons Reporter reached out to PNC Bank but has not received a response yet.
Ashley Hopko and Catherine Douglas Moran contributed reporting
Located near the McLean Metro station, DynCorp is a global government services provider.
The allegations involve “two former DynCorp officials, Wesley Aaron Struble and Jose Rivera, who solicited and accepted kickbacks from an Iraqi subcontractor in connection with DynCorp’s lease of property for its operations in Baghdad, Iraq on behalf of the U.S. Department of State,” the press release says.
More from the press release:
Struble and Rivera previously pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia to violating the Anti-Kickback Act for their role in soliciting and accepting at least $390,000 in cash kickbacks from the Al-Qarat Company in exchange for influencing DynCorp’s lease of property in Baghdad at a lease amount higher than the previous lease. The lease costs were included with services for international civilian policing that DynCorp billed under a U.S. Department of State contract in 2011 and 2012.
The settlement resolves the alleged liability of DynCorp for violation of civil penalties under the Anti-Kickback Act and the civil False Claims Act arising out of Struble’s and Rivera’s fraudulent conduct while employed by DynCorp.
The resolutions obtained in this matter were the result of a coordinated effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Department of State Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The matter was investigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Roushdy. The civil claims settled by this False Claims Act agreement are allegations only; there has been no determination of civil liability.
The company celebrated its new headquarters at 1700 Old Meadow Road in 2014.
Image via Google Maps
Vienna police say a resident is concerned that wannabe dog owners are barking up the wrong tree for their puppy pick-ups.
“A resident advised that on two separate occasions, people have arrived at his residence to collect a puppy they have purchased,” Vienna police say. “The resident is concerned that scammers may be using his address while defrauding people.”
The incidents occurred between Jan. 8-12 in the 400 block of MacArthur Avenue NE.
In a separate incident, police say that someone spray-painted the playground equipment at the Tot Lot (Branch Road and Locust Street SE).
The vandalism occurred sometime between 10 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 12, and 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 13, police say.
Photo via Facebook
Vienna police say that a man said his credit card was charged for a larger amount than what he ordered at Hunan Delight.
The man got food delivery from the restaurant at 276 Cedar Lane SE on Dec. 11, police said. “He paid for the food with a credit card and gave the delivery driver a cash tip,” according to the report.
More from the police report:
A few days later he noticed the total for the order on his credit account was higher than what he had authorized. The restaurant provided the citizen with a copy of the receipt. The citizen advised that the receipt was not the same receipt that he had signed and that his signature was forged on the receipt they had.
Image via Google Maps
Clinton Portis, a former running back in the National Football League, was charged in connection to an alleged health benefits scam, according to the Department of Justice.
Portis and the nine former NFL players allegedly committed multi-million dollar fraud from expensive medical equipment that police say was never purchased or received, according to a press release from the Justice Department yesterday (Thursday).
Portis, who was a running back for the Washington Redskins, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of health care fraud.
Fox 5 DC reported that Portis surrendered to authorities in North Carolina today (Friday).
The Department of Justice says that Portis is a McLean resident.
More from the Justice Department:
The alleged fraud targeted the Gene Upshaw NFL Player Health Reimbursement Account Plan (the Plan), which was established pursuant to the 2006 collective bargaining agreement and provided for tax-free reimbursement of out-of-pocket medical care expenses that were not covered by insurance and that were incurred by former players, their wives and their dependents – up to a maximum of $350,000 per player. According to the charging documents, over $3.9 million in false and fraudulent claims were submitted to the Plan, and the Plan paid out over $3.4 million on those claims between June 2017 and December 2018…
“The defendants are alleged to have developed and executed a fraudulent scheme to undermine a health care benefit plan established by the NFL — one established to help their former teammates and colleagues pay for legitimate medical expenses,” said U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr. for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “The defendants allegedly submitted false claims to the plan and obtained money for expensive medical equipment that was never purchased or received, depriving that plan of valuable resources to help others meet their medical needs. We have prioritized the investigation and prosecution of health care fraud in our office, and we appreciate the partnership we share with the Criminal Division and the FBI in pursuing these important matters.”
“This investigation serves as an illustration of the rampant and deliberate scams against health care plans occurring daily throughout the country,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the Miami Field Office. “In this case, these fraudsters pocketed money from the Gene Upshaw National Football League Health Reimbursement Account Plan that was intended for former NFL players who are ill or infirm. Over 20 FBI field offices participated in this investigation which demonstrates the level of commitment we have to rooting out this type of fraud.”
Two separate indictments filed in the Eastern District of Kentucky outline two alleged conspiracies involving different players related to the same scheme to defraud the Plan. Those charged in the indictments are the following:
Robert McCune, 40, of Riverdale, Georgia, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud, nine counts of wire fraud and nine counts of health care fraud.
John Eubanks, 36, of Cleveland, Mississippi; Tamarick Vanover, 45, of Tallahassee, Florida; and Carlos Rogers, 38, of Alpharetta, Georgia, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud, two counts of wire fraud and two counts of health care fraud.
Clinton Portis, 38, of McLean, Virginia; Ceandris Brown, 36, of Fresno, Texas; James Butler, 37, of Atlanta, Georgia; and Fredrick Bennett, 35, of Port Wentworth, Georgia, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of health care fraud.
Correll Buckhalter, 41, of Colleyville, Texas, and Etric Pruitt, 38, of Theodore, Alabama, are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and health care fraud. In addition, the government has filed notice that it intends to file criminal informations charging Joseph Horn, 47, of Columbia, South Carolina, and Donald “Reche” Caldwell, 40, of Tampa, Florida, with conspiracy to commit health care fraud in the Eastern District of Kentucky.
The indictments charge that the scheme to defraud involved the submission of false and fraudulent claims to the Plan for expensive medical equipment — typically between $40,000 and $50,000 for each claim — that was never purchased or received. The expensive medical equipment described on the false and fraudulent claims included hyperbaric oxygen chambers, cryotherapy machines, ultrasound machines designed for use by a doctor’s office to conduct women’s health examinations and electromagnetic therapy devices designed for use on horses.
According to allegations in the indictments, McCune, Eubanks, Vanover, Buckhalter, Rogers and others recruited other players into the scheme by offering to submit or cause the submission of these false and fraudulent claims in exchange for kickbacks and bribes that ranged from a few thousand dollars to $10,000 or more per claim submitted. As part of the scheme, the defendants allegedly fabricated supporting documentation for the claims, including invoices, prescriptions and letters of medical necessity. After the claims were submitted, McCune and Buckhalter allegedly called the telephone number provided by the Plan and impersonated certain other players in order to check on the status of the false and fraudulent claims.
This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by the Health Care Fraud Unit of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky. The investigation included efforts by various FBI Field Offices and Resident Agencies, including: Augusta, Georgia; Birmingham and Mobile, Alabama; Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Columbia, South Carolina; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Jackson, Mississippi; Lexington, Kentucky; New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa, Florida; Newark, New Jersey; Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and Newport Beach, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Washington, D.C.
Trial Attorneys John (Fritz) Scanlon, Alexander J. Kramer and Thomas J. Tynan of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul C. McCaffrey and Andrew E. Smith of the Eastern District of Kentucky are prosecuting the cases.
Photo by Joe Gratz/Flickr
The Vienna Police Department wants people to beware fraudulent calls from people pretending to be Vienna police officers.
A man reported one such scam call last Friday, Sept. 13, around 1 p.m.
“A man who resides in Fairfax County came to the Vienna Police Station advising he was on the phone with someone claiming to be a Vienna police officer and they were attempting to defraud him of money,” according to a police report.
When a police officer tried to speak to the caller, but “the caller hung up when the officer identified himself,” police said. The phone number that the call came from was the Vienna Police Department’s non-emergency number.
Police told the man that the call was a scam and advised him to report it to the Fairfax County Police Department for the attempted fraud, according to the report.
“Spoofing telephone numbers is a common scam that is used in an attempt to defraud citizens out of money. Our department does not make calls in an attempt to collect money,” the police department said.
If anyone lost jewelry at Caboose Tavern (124 Church Street NE), Vienna police may know of its whereabouts.
“A member of the Vienna Optimists Club advised a citizen found a piece of jewelry and turned it over to them at the Caboose” on Saturday, Sept. 14, according to police.
Photo via Facebook
Vienna police are looking for the suspect who brandished a knife at customers inside the Panera Bread along Maple Avenue.
The incident occurred shortly before 9 p.m. last Friday (Aug. 23) at 136 W. Maple Avenue.
“A subject walked into the store and brandished a knife at customers inside the store,” police said. “The subject then left the store on foot prior to police arrival.”
A Panera Bread employee called the police, according to the report.
In a separate incident, police are investigating an attempted fraud involving the Giant at 359 E. Maple Avenue yesterday (Thursday).
Shortly before midnight, “a person called into Giant and impersonated a security officer for the supermarket chain in an attempt to scam one of their store employees out of a large amount of money,” police said.
“The employee realized it was a scam and hung up the phone before completing the unusual request,” police said.
Photo via Facebook
A Vienna resident reported to police alleged attempted fraud after applying to a job.
The attempted fraud allegedly occurred on Tuesday, Aug. 13, according to the Vienna Police Department.
“A resident reported an attempted fraud after applying for a job through an on-line internet offer for an assistant elder care provider,” the police report said.
In a separate incident, a resident in the 1000 block of Country Club Drive NE said that someone threw eggs at the roof of his house and vehicle on Wednesday (Aug. 21) between 2-10 a.m.
Photo via Facebook