The scam targeted dozens of people across the United States but was filed in St. Louis because one of the main victims is a resident of Missouri. That individual -- identified in court documents only as "J.P." -- was allegedly duped into paying the suspects over $85,000.
According to the indictment, the suspects called the victims while pretending to be U.S. government agents who were aware that the victims had purchased medicine online. In the case of J.P., the drug was the prescription weight-loss medication phenteimine. The suspects -- acting as government agents -- told the victims that they could avoid prosecution if they agreed to pay a fine by wire service.
The suspects allegedly rung even more money out of the victims when further informed them that they could join a class-action lawsuit filed in the Dominican Republic against the online drug retailer. But before they could receive their settlement from the case, they needed to wire a payment that would cover the taxes charged on their payouts.
Kathleen Martin-Weis, an FDA investigator who worked the case, hoped that others would learn a lesson from the case.
"When consumers purchase drugs online from unscrupulous Internet pharmacies, they not only put their health at risk but subject themselves to extortion and compromise their personal financial information."
Those indicted are:
Edison Joseph, a/k/a "Edison Joseph Rodriguez";
Francisco Santana, a/k/a "Francisco Ilianovis Santana Vizcaino";
Miguel Bonilla, a/k/a "Miguel Bonilla Caminero";
Santiago Guzman, a/k/a "Santiago Guzman Gonzalez";
Victor Ventura, a/k/a "Victor Hugo Ventura Perdomo";
Marcos Rodriguez, a/k/a "Marcos Rodriguez Adon";
Samuel Bello, a/k/a "Samuel Bello De Los Santos";
Eduardo Benito Nunez;
Claudio Ramirez, a/k/a "Claudio Ramirez Ramirez"; and
Elinson Reyes , a/k/a "Elinson Bienvenido Reyes Almonte."
Eleven citizens of the Dominican Republic were indicted yesterday in federal court in St. Louis on charges of wire fraud that prosecutors say was elaborate scheme to rip-off people who've purchased drugs online without a prescription.