PHOENIX -- Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced almost $2 million has been recovered for victims of a 10-year-old Phoenix-based boiler room telephone fraud operation through civil forfeiture and liquidation of seized property. The Attorney General’s Financial Remedies Section (FRS) and the U.S. Postal Inspector conducted the investigation.
In 2009, according to detectives, a network of individuals made initial unsolicited calls designed to "hook" victims with "get-rich-quick" business opportunities. The umbrella organization, "Bankcard Empire," comprised of numerous associated LLCs, etc., sent follow-up packages to the victims via certified mail and received in return the signatures of the victims. They then used the signatures to forge credit card forms and place charges against the victims for services. Investigators identified Leslie Mersky as the principal of Bankcard Empire.
FRS secured a court-issued seizure warrant and seized cash, bank accounts, twelve vehicles, fourteen parcels of real property, and miscellaneous personal property pursuant to the warrant. FRS recovered more than $1,800,000 through the forfeiture and liquidation of the seized property. Advocates for the Office of Victim Services (OVS) worked with victims to determine how much their losses were.
A Victim Compensation Plan will soon be presented to the court for review and approval. Once approved, recovered funds will be dispersed in two phases to at least 1,894 victims. Any additional victims who come forward prior to the second phase will be added to the victim pool and receive compensation. More information will be released from the Attorney General’s Office.
Under Arizona law, law enforcement can use civil forfeiture statutes to seize and forfeit property that’s been used in criminal activity and compensate victims who suffered economic loss from the activity.
Leslie Mersky was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison in March 2018.