The United States is seeking the extradition of two U.S. citizens arrested last week in Costa Rica in connection with fraud ventures throughout the United States, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Stephen Schultz on Friday became the second detainee after the Dec. 9 arrest of his alleged co-conspirator Jeffrey Pearson, both of whom U.S. authorities suspect of selling bogus business opportunities to purchasers in U.S. states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Nevada.
Operating out of Costa Rica, Pearson and Schultz purportedly scammed investors to buy into business opportunities in USA Beverages Inc., Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee Inc., Cards-R-Us Inc., Premier Cards Inc., The Coffee Man Inc., and Powerbrands Distributing Company, according to a press release on the Justice Department’s Web site.
The suspects allegedly used Internet technologies to make it appear they were based in the United States, and they sent mailings from a U.S. post office box.
“We greatly appreciate the effort and cooperation of Costa Rican authorities in arresting these two defendants,” said Gregory G. Katsas, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Division, according to the press release.
“The (U.S.) Postal Inspection Service investigated a virtual office in Reno, Nevada, and learned that it and the U.S. mail system were being used as part of a international fraud scheme aimed at U.S. citizens. Our investigation discovered a web of deception that led to Costa Rica. With international cooperation, we have now arrested two of the leaders of this scheme,” said U. S. Postal Inspector in Charge Pete Zegarac, based in Phoenix, Arizona.
The suspects, if convicted, could face up to 10 years in a federal prison, a possible fine and mandatory restitution for a conspiracy count. For each mail and wire fraud count, they face a maximum term of 25 years in prison, a possible fine and mandatory restitution.