WBEZ | fraud http://www.wbez.org/tags/fraud Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Drug addicts sent from Puerto Rico may be victims of ID theft in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/drug-addicts-sent-puerto-rico-may-be-victims-id-theft-chicago-112325 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Joel%20%281%29.JPG" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Joel says he was never able to retrieve the personal documents that Segunda Vida, a 24-hour group for addicts in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, took from him. Later, he learned that his identity was being used by someone else when his unemployment benefits were frozen.(WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><div>After we aired a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-rico-exports-its-drug-addicts-chicago-111852">story</a> about Puerto Rican drug addicts who were sent to unlicensed 24-hour group treatment programs in Chicago, we heard from lots of listeners. They were disturbed by one particular detail in reporter Adriana Cardona-Maguigad&rsquo;s investigation: that the groups routinely confiscate addicts&rsquo; identifying documents, and sometimes don&rsquo;t return them.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In fact, in a tension-filled scene in Cardona-Maguigad&rsquo;s story, she accompanied one man to retrieve his documents from one of these treatment programs, a place called Segunda Vida.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/213554791&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></div><blockquote><div><strong>Listen: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/drug-addicts-sent-puerto-rico-may-be-victims-id-theft-chicago-112325#playlist">More stories and conversations about the pipeline of addicts from Puerto Rico to Chicago</a></strong></div></blockquote><div><p>Our listeners wrote us to ask: What are these groups doing with the addicts&rsquo; papers? If they&rsquo;re really trying to keep those documents safe, as Cardona-Maguigad was <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/554/transcript">told</a> by a founder of Segunda Vida, then why would they keep the papers even after an addict leaves? Could they be selling these addicts&rsquo; identities on the black market?</p><p>It turns out, where Puerto Ricans are concerned, there&rsquo;s added reason for suspicion. Puerto Ricans&rsquo; identities are especially valuable, because they&rsquo;re U.S. citizens -- with Social Security numbers -- and Spanish names.</p><p>In a federal case against an alleged Puerto Rican identity <a href="http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/50-individuals-charged-puerto-rico-allegedly-trafficking-identities-puerto-rican-us">trafficking ring</a>, law enforcement agents found that a set that included a birth certificate and Social Security card could fetch up to $2,500 on the black market. With that, an undocumented immigrant from South or Central America could obtain work authorization, a line of credit or even a U.S. passport.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-rico-exports-its-drug-addicts-chicago-111852">Puerto Rico exports its drug addicts to Chicago</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>I started hanging out in the same Back-of-the-Yards neighborhood where Cardona-Maguigad found many addicts in her story. I thought, if I could just ask a few of them to share their Social Security numbers with me, we could find out what&rsquo;s happening with their personal information. Most of the men I found refused to share that data. They told me they&rsquo;d gotten their documents back when they left the treatment programs, and they didn&rsquo;t have reason to suspect foul play.</p><p>But then I met Joel.</p><p>He can&rsquo;t recall when he was sent to Chicago for treatment, but he, too, dropped out of rehab at Segunda Vida. Most mornings, I found him loafing around outside, making friendly chit-chat with other street characters. But he&rsquo;s still very much lost in the haze of his heroin addiction.</p><p>&ldquo;When you go back to this, you get totally lost,&rdquo; he told me one day, speaking in Spanish. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t even know what day it is.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">&lsquo;It appeared I was working in Alabama&rsquo;</span></p><p>I&rsquo;m not using Joel&rsquo;s last name, to protect his identity. At 34, he said the only identification he carries is a photocopy of an Illinois state ID. Like others who went to Segunda Vida for treatment, he surrendered his documents to the people running the program. Confiscating identifying papers is common practice at these kinds of unofficial treatment facilities. When he left, he said he didn&rsquo;t get his documents back. He tried, returning to the residence several times, but eventually he gave up.</p><p>Later, Joel learned that his identity was being used by someone else. He discovered it when he found that his unemployment benefits had been frozen.</p><p>&ldquo;When I went to the unemployment office I was told that they had to stop payment because it appeared I was working in Alabama and I had additional income there,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Joel shared his Social Security number with me, and with it, I got a rundown of his earnings over the years. What I found were classic signs of identity theft.</p><p>First, Joel said he hasn&rsquo;t held a steady job in years. He recalled working at a corrugated paper factory in Chicago and some brief stints canning jalapenos and olives. But his record shows continuous earnings for nearly a decade -- roughly $30,000 a year since 2006. Plus, the earnings swing erratically. One year it&rsquo;s as high as $52,000, and another, it&rsquo;s less than $16,000. And a lot the work is with temporary staffing agencies and food processing companies -- two industries known for hiring undocumented immigrants.</p><p>Because it looked suspicious, I took what I found to a man named George Rodriguez. Rodriguez described himself as a founder of Segunda Vida and a former addict himself. He denied that the program ever sold addicts&rsquo; identities, and said people always get their papers when they leave.</p><p>Clearly that was not the case with Joel. And soon I found that he&rsquo;s not the only one in this situation. In fact, the next guy I met had an even wackier story.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">&lsquo;My credit was ruined&rsquo;</span></p><p>Juan, 40, was told that the rehab program that he went to &ldquo;lost&rdquo; his papers.</p><p>&ldquo;They kept my papers, my Social Security card, my ID, my birth certificate, everything,&rdquo; he said in Spanish.</p><p>Then last year, he tried to get a car loan. That&rsquo;s when he got his first inkling that something was up with his personal information.</p><p>&ldquo;They said no because my credit was ruined,&rdquo; he said.</p>So I took Juan&rsquo;s Social Security Number, too, and showed what I found to several experts. Here&rsquo;s a snapshot:</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/image%20%281%29.png" title="Juan, a drug addict from Puerto Rico, arrived in Chicago in 2003. That same year, earnings associated with his Social Security Number rose dramatically." /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div><p>&ldquo;Wow. Well. I know they say America&rsquo;s the Land of Opportunity, but, boy, has his income jumped since arriving on the mainland,&rdquo; said William Kresse, a professor at Governors State University and an expert on identity theft, on seeing Juan&rsquo;s incomes.</p><p>The first red flag Kresse identified was the year that Juan&rsquo;s income jumped significantly.</p><p>&ldquo;Suddenly in 2003, the year that he was brought to the Chicago area, it jumps to almost $30,000, and then almost $44,000. And, oh my goodness, $116,000, almost $168,000,&rdquo; said Kresse. &ldquo;Yeah, this is remarkable.&rdquo;</p><p>There were even earnings during times that Juan was in jail for theft and residential burglary. His records paint a frenetic picture, of a guy processing beef in Washington state, removing snow in Illinois, working at a Wendy&rsquo;s fast food restaurant and holding thirteen other jobs&hellip; all in a single year.</p><p>There are some things we can&rsquo;t say for sure. We can&rsquo;t say that Juan and Joel&rsquo;s identities were sold by the drug rehab programs. We can&rsquo;t say that everyone who&rsquo;s gone to one of these programs is a victim of identity theft. We can&rsquo;t even say for sure that Juan and Joel didn&rsquo;t sell their identities themselves. I asked, and they both said they didn&rsquo;t. But federal law enforcement officials have found that some Puerto Rican addicts do that for a bit of cash.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-dart-investigate-unlicensed-rehab-centers-111938">Sheriff calls on feds to investigate Puerto Rican agencies that send addicts to Chicago</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>That said, Bill Kresse said there is still enough here to warrant further action.</p><p>&ldquo;Definite red flags to show that there&rsquo;s probable cause to go ahead with a further investigation, in fact a criminal investigation into this,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The numbers alone should justify a criminal investigation.&rdquo;</p><p>Kresse wasn&rsquo;t the only one to say this. We found lots of officials who said there&rsquo;s enough here to warrant concern. A federal prosecutor. A former Chicago police officer. Two former FBI agents. Someone with the Social Security Administration. The Illinois Department of Human Services. They agree that if these treatment places are organized schemes to set up vulnerable drug addicts for identity theft, somebody should go after them.</p><p>But nobody agrees on who should look into it.</p><p>Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan&rsquo;s office said it&rsquo;s a matter for Chicago Police or the FBI. Chicago Police and the FBI said there&rsquo;s nothing to investigate if victims don&rsquo;t report a crime. Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn&rsquo;t talk about whether it&rsquo;s investigating something. And the Social Security Administration said it lacks jurisdiction to investigate identity theft.</p><p>So we know we have something. We just don&rsquo;t have anyone willing to investigate it.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/3512712648/36dee91a3ceeb66e8253372b9e042d0c_400x400.jpeg">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></div><p><span style="font-size:24px;">More stories and conversations about the pipeline of addicts from Puerto Rico to Chicago<a name="playlist"></a></span></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="350" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/121617509&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 06 Jul 2015 22:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/drug-addicts-sent-puerto-rico-may-be-victims-id-theft-chicago-112325 Inspector General finds questionable conduct in CPS http://www.wbez.org/news/inspector-general-finds-questionable-conduct-cps-111338 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/CPS IG LUNCH PHOTO.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-d231fa94-bb41-12b8-a409-b2b852f480ad">Parents who try to sneak their kids into Chicago&rsquo;s selective schools through address fraud have been put on notice.</p><p dir="ltr">A new report by Chicago Public Schools inspector general, Nicholas Schuler, details several cases of admissions fraud investigated by his office over the last year. And his recommendations range from kicking the students out to firing the CPS staff who abetted it.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I hope this sends a message that people need to follow the rules and the rules apply to everybody,&rdquo; Schuler said. &ldquo;And when fraud is discovered there is going to be responsibility for that and the result might be that their child might be disenrolled from the school.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Departments/Documents/OIG_FY_2014_AnnualReport.pdf">This year&rsquo;s report</a>, which went live Monday morning, includes the usual array of residency violations, kickback schemes, fake purchases and tuition fraud. But it also documents the desperate acts of parents trying to get their kids into selective schools, administrators trying to fudge their dropout rates and vendors trying to get the inside track on city contracts.</p><p dir="ltr">On Sunday night, CPS released a statement to WBEZ, saying &quot;Chicago Public Schools is committed to working with the Office of the Inspector General to eliminate corruption, fraud and waste across the District. &nbsp;The annual OIG report is a testament of our cooperation and demonstrates we do not tolerate any wrongdoing, and CPS has either addressed or is addressing all the issues in the report.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Although the report cannot name names, WBEZ has been able to fill in some identities through media reports, public documents and confirmations by sources. The purview of the OIG is mainly restricted to CPS employees and so does not represent all violations that occur in the system.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2011, the district replaced race with socio-economics status (by address) as a factor for admission to selective enrollment high schools. This year&rsquo;s report is the first to investigate abuse of this factor by more than a dozen students at six selective enrollment high schools. Another six cases involved CPS employees who had falsified their addresses to appear less affluent and gain their children easier admission. Most of the children identified in the report have been kicked out of the schools, and most of the CPS employees have faced or will face dismissals.</p><p dir="ltr">Monday, CPS said it would consider audits of selective enrollment students in the future.</p><p dir="ltr">The report further detailed $657,000 in back tuition owed by suburban residents who were illegally sending their kids to CPS schools.</p><p dir="ltr">Another prominent case in this year&rsquo;s document involves former Gwendolyn Brooks Preparatory High School principal Dushon Brown. According to the report, on the eve of the 2010-11 school year, she asked a CPS administrator to allow a student who&rsquo;d neither applied for nor taken the selective enrollment exam, to enroll in her school. When the administrator refused, Brown, reportedly &ldquo;phoned a state legislator&rdquo; who phoned the administrator again asking for an exception. The attempts were not successful. The OIG recommended discipline for the principal in its 2012 report.</p><p dir="ltr">In its 2013 report, the OIG detailed a case in which Principal Brown and a Gwendolyn Brooks school operations manager found a bank account opened by the parent booster club of the building&rsquo;s previous occupant, a Catholic school. The report says a &ldquo;local bank inexplicably allowed&rdquo; Brown and the operations manager to take control of the $186,235 of funds and spend $116,974, but never included it in the &ldquo;school&rsquo;s internal accounts ledger.&rdquo; The OIG recommended discipline for the principal, which was still pending at the time of the last report. In today&rsquo;s report the OIG reports that Brown was terminated in 2014 and classified as a &ldquo;Do Not Hire.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The report follows up on another 2012 case in which the OIG found a former chief area officer took nearly $17,000 in travel and gifts (including a $10,000 scholarship) from textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In exchange, according to the report, the CPS officer steered the publisher to nearly $300,000 in business &ldquo;through no-bid, sole source deals.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Last July the CPS Board entered into a settlement with the publisher requiring it to pay a $250,000 fine and to fund an independent monitor to oversee these issues. In addition, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt had to train its employees to comply with board ethics policies.</p><p dir="ltr">Another outstanding ethics issue tackled in this year&rsquo;s report involves a dispute between two of the nation&rsquo;s largest food service providers, who were competing for the 2013 school food contract, valued at nearly $100 million a year. Food giant Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality charged that CPS school food chief (and former Aramark manager) Leslie Fowler showed favoritism to her former employer in the contract bidding process. The district asked the OIG to rule on the issue at the time, and it concluded that Fowler&rsquo;s actions &ldquo;did not violate applicable ethics policies.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In its new report, however, the OIG says Fowler &ldquo;engaged in questionable conduct throughout the award process.&rdquo; This included dining twice with the president of Aramark during the process and telling fellow bid committee members that her boss did not want Chartwells to win the contract. The report further says that Fowler told &ldquo;staff members that she did not need to review (Aramark&rsquo;s bid) because she had written proposals for&rdquo; the company herself and Aramark knew what she wanted. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In the process of the Fowler investigation, &ldquo;the OIG also learned that the administrator prodded subordinates to participate in a party game that made people feel uncomfortable.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Attempts to reach Fowler for comment through CPS were unsuccessful.</p><p dir="ltr">In the wake of the case, the OIG has recommended that CPS review the investigation to see &ldquo;if any further action regarding the administrator is warranted.&rdquo; It also recommended that the district &ldquo;review its RFP [contract bidding] policy and ensure adequate training for those involved in the process.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Aramark also<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767"> received one of the nation&rsquo;s largest school custodial contracts </a>last year from CPS when the district privatized its cleaning crews. The Aramark takeover of the program has been met with &nbsp;district-wide complaints of dirty classrooms, theft, damaged materials and bad communication. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Another novel case in this year&rsquo;s report investigated a CPS high school that classified 296 students &nbsp;who dropped out (since 2009) as &ldquo;transfers,&rdquo; allegedly in order to improve its dropout numbers. The school said that the students were headed for GED programs, but Illinois law makes it clear that these students are to be counted as dropouts. Another 121 students at the school were classified as transfers, but the OIG says less than 5 percent of the cases was backed up with &ldquo;adequate written proof.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In another case, the OIG says a high school principal was sending an average of 55 students a day to a kind of first period detention if they were more than 15 minutes tardy. The practice was done to discourage tardiness but the OIG said it occurred more than 10,000 times (recorded as &ldquo;school function&rdquo;) in the 2012-13 school year, resulting in hundreds of thousands of missed instruction minutes. Although principals have leeway to be creative with attendance programs the OIG recommended CPS implement more consistent practices.</p><p dir="ltr">Other cases, among the OIG&rsquo;s 280 this year, dealt with full time CPS teachers who were also employed as full time Chicago Police Department officers; a phony billing scheme at Michele Clark High School that resulted in $870,000 in fraud and principals who fraudulently enrolled their family members as students for a few key weeks to boost attendance numbers.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 11:57:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/inspector-general-finds-questionable-conduct-cps-111338 Sheriff warns Indian immigrants of scam http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-warns-indian-immigrants-scam-107079 <p><p>Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is <a href="http://www.cookcountysheriff.com/press_page/press_AsianIndianComScam_05_07_2013.html">warning Indian immigrants about a phone scam </a>that&rsquo;s recently targeted several victims in unincorporated Des Plaines. Victims received calls in which they were told they owed money to the Internal Revenue Service or to a collections agency, and that failure to pay would result in arrest or deportation.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The amounts actually vary from victim to victim in the reports that we&rsquo;ve had, but in some cases it&rsquo;s been in the thousands,&rdquo; said Sophia Ansari, Press Secretary at the Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s Office. Ansari said the caller often instructed victims to pay with a replenishable debit card.</p><p dir="ltr">The perpetrator spoke to the victims in English, Hindi, Gujarati and other Indian dialects.</p><p dir="ltr">Ansari said anyone who receives a suspicious call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or from a collections agency should record the name and number of the caller, and to contact the agency that the caller purports to represent.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 08 May 2013 13:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-warns-indian-immigrants-scam-107079 Chicago's Sacred Heart Hospital raided by feds in kickback scheme, four arrested http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-sacred-heart-hospital-raided-feds-kickback-scheme-four-arrested-106672 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/sacredheart.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Federal authorities raided Sacred Heart Hospital on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side Tuesday morning. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The hospital&rsquo;s owner and chief financial officer were arrested, along with four doctors.</p><p dir="ltr">The U.S. States attorney&rsquo;s office alleges hospital officials paid kickbacks to physicians in return for referrals of Medicare and Medicaid patients.&nbsp;Prosecutors say about $2 million in Medicare reimbursement payments were seized Tuesday from various bank accounts.</p><p dir="ltr">An FBI spokeswoman in Chicago, Joan Hyde, confirmed warrants were served during a raid Tuesday morning at the hospital.</p><p dir="ltr">Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Jim Bailey says the hospital continues to provide ongoing care. He says the hospital has no additional information on the investigation.</p><p dir="ltr">Though not charged, <a href="https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1g80TU7KaJJUFZSdDczOXNBZWs/edit?usp=sharing" target="_blank">the affidavit</a> also suggests the hospital unnecessarily admitted patients to the emergency room and performed unneeded tests to increase billing. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The investigation is also probing claims that the hospital performed unnecessary tracheostomies to collect substantial insurance reimbursements.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Today&rsquo;s arrests demonstrate our commitment to enforcing the laws intended to prevent abuses of the Medicare and Medicaid programs and to preserve the ability of those programs to provide appropriate medical services to the elderly and the needy,&rdquo; said Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.</p><p dir="ltr">Arrests included:</p><ul dir="ltr"><li style="">Edward J Novak, 58, of Park Ridge, Sacred Heart&rsquo;s owner and chief executive officer</li><li style="">Roy M Payawal, 64, of Burr Ridge, executive vice president and chief financial officer</li><li style="">Doctors Venkateswara R. Kuchipudi, of Oak Brook; Percy Conrad May Jr., 75, of Chicago; Subir Maitra, 73, of Chicago and Shanin Moshiri, 57, of Chicago.</li></ul><p dir="ltr">All six defendants are scheduled to have their initial court appearance April 16.</p><p dir="ltr">The Illinois Department of Public Health says its now assessing patient care at the Chicago hospital.</p><p>The department said in a news release Tuesday afternoon that it&#39;s at Sacred Heart Hospital to assess the facility&#39;s ability to care for patients and will conduct a full inspection of the facility to see if there are any state or federal violations.</p><p>Hospital officials said they are cooperating with federal authorities.</p><p>If you or a loved one has received unnecessary treatment at Sacred Heart, or any hospital, you can report it at <a href="http://www.stopmedicarefraud.gov">www.stopmedicarefraud.gov</a></p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her&nbsp;@<a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">shannon_h</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 16 Apr 2013 12:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-sacred-heart-hospital-raided-feds-kickback-scheme-four-arrested-106672 Prosecutors charge 32 people from Chicago area with lying to collect unemployment checks http://www.wbez.org/news/prosecutors-charge-32-people-chicago-area-lying-collect-unemployment-checks-105109 <p><p>Thirty-two people from the Chicago area are facing criminal charges for illegally collecting unemployment checks. The U.S. Attorney&rsquo;s office in Chicago is bringing the charges against those who allegedly filed for unemployment improperly.</p><p>Prosecutors say the 32 either had a job or were under-reporting their income. Federal prosecutors say the defendants allegedly collected anywhere from $19,000 to $38,000.</p><p>Twenty-seven are charged with felonies; five are charged with misdemeanor theft.</p><p>The felony counts carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as mandatory restitution. The misdemeanor counts have a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.</p><p>Jay Rowell heads Illinois&rsquo; Department of Employment Security says there is an uptick of fraudulent claims.</p><p>&quot;Since there have been extended federal benefits, you know, there&rsquo;s more of an incentive for people to attempt to defraud the system,&quot; Rowell said.</p><p>Rowell said he also wants to crack down on other cases of unemployment fraud in Illinois, smaller than what the feds have allegedly found.</p><p>&quot;In my mind, paying out one penny improperly is something that needs to be addressed,&quot; he said.</p><p>Federal prosecutors say the 32 defendants defrauded the unemployment office of nearly $900,000 in total.</p><p>Illinois unemployment benefits are funded primarily by employers, while IDES administrative costs are funded primarily by the federal government.</p></p> Thu, 24 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/prosecutors-charge-32-people-chicago-area-lying-collect-unemployment-checks-105109 Four Chicago firefighters fired over mileage fraud http://www.wbez.org/story/four-chicago-firefighters-fired-over-mileage-fraud-92052 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-15/firedepartment logo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>CHICAGO -- Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Robert Hoff&nbsp;says four firefighters will be terminated for falsifying mileage&nbsp;reports.</p><p>Hoff's announcement on Thursday comes after an investigation by&nbsp;the Chicago Inspector General found dozens of firefighters&nbsp;fraudulently added $100,000 worth of mileage to reports in 2009.</p><p>The inspector general recommended all firefighters be terminated.</p><p>But Hoff instead fired four of them and gave the others unpaid&nbsp;suspensions of between 30 and 60 days. Six firefighters retired.</p><p>Hoff says those who received suspensions had otherwise clean&nbsp;disciplinary reports.</p><p>The firefighters worked in the Fire Prevention Bureau. The city&nbsp;law department is investigating if the money can be recouped.</p></p> Thu, 15 Sep 2011 21:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/four-chicago-firefighters-fired-over-mileage-fraud-92052 Haiti’s election: what happens next? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/haiti%E2%80%99s-election-what-happens-next <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//107199976.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Most of the candidates who participated in Haiti&rsquo;s national election this past weekend have called it a &ldquo;massive fraud.&rdquo; Twelve of the 18 candidates have called for a new election.</p><p>The international community pushed hard for the voting, hoping it would produce a legitimate government capable of moving forward with the country's sluggish reconstruction efforts. The Haitian diaspora also hoped the election would bring real change.</p><p>For analysis, we talk to Haitian economist and DePaul University professor <a href="http://www.snl.depaul.edu/People/Faculty/lcomeau.asp">Ludovic Comeau</a>.</p><p><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 30 Nov 2010 16:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/haiti%E2%80%99s-election-what-happens-next Alleged Ponzi scheme had unusual hook for investors -- religion http://www.wbez.org/story/news/criminal-justice/alleged-ponzi-scheme-had-unusual-hook-investors-religion <p><p><meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8"><meta name="ProgId" content="Word.Document"><meta name="Generator" content="Microsoft Word 12"><meta name="Originator" content="Microsoft Word 12"><link rel="File-List" href="file:///C:%5CDOCUME%7E1%5Clkalsnes%5CLOCALS%7E1%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_filelist.xml" /><o:smarttagtype namespaceuri="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" name="City"></o:smarttagtype><link rel="themeData" href="file:///C:%5CDOCUME%7E1%5Clkalsnes%5CLOCALS%7E1%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_themedata.thmx" /><link rel="colorSchemeMapping" href="file:///C:%5CDOCUME%7E1%5Clkalsnes%5CLOCALS%7E1%5CTemp%5Cmsohtmlclip1%5C01%5Cclip_colorschememapping.xml" /><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves/> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF/> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>X-NONE</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> <w:SnapToGridInCell/> <w:WrapTextWithPunct/> <w:UseAsianBreakRules/> <w:DontGrowAutofit/> <w:SplitPgBreakAndParaMark/> <w:DontVertAlignCellWithSp/> <w:DontBreakConstrainedForcedTables/> <w:DontVertAlignInTxbx/> <w:Word11KerningPairs/> <w:CachedColBalance/> </w:Compatibility> <m:mathPr> <m:mathFont m:val="Cambria Math"/> <m:brkBin m:val="before"/> <m:brkBinSub m:val="&#45;-"/> <m:smallFrac m:val="off"/> <m:dispDef/> <m:lMargin m:val="0"/> <m:rMargin m:val="0"/> <m:defJc m:val="centerGroup"/> <m:wrapIndent m:val="1440"/> <m:intLim m:val="subSup"/> <m:naryLim m:val="undOvr"/> </m:mathPr></w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" DefUnhideWhenUsed="true" DefSemiHidden="true" DefQFormat="false" DefPriority="99" LatentStyleCount="267"> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="0" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Normal"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="heading 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 7"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 8"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 9"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 7"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 8"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 9"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="35" QFormat="true" Name="caption"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" Name="Default Paragraph Font"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Strong"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="59" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Table Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Placeholder Text"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Revision"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Quote"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading"/> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><style type="text/css"> <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:1; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:0 0 0 0 0 0;} @font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-1610611985 1073750139 0 0 159 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";} p {mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-unhide:no; mso-margin-top-alt:auto; margin-right:0in; mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; margin-left:0in; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in 1.0in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> </style></meta></meta></meta></meta>Federal prosecutors allege three owners of a bankrupt Chicago real estate firm operated a Ponzi scheme. The owners allegedly attracted investments by claiming they complied with Islamic law, which prohibits investors from earning interest.<o:p></o:p></p> <p>The indictment alleges Sunrise Equities sought investments from Muslims by claiming to provide monthly payments from profits -- not interest. Investors were promised returns of between 15 to 30 percent. <o:p></o:p></p> <p>But the indictment charges the owners didn&rsquo;t actually profit from real estate development. Instead, they allegedly sold promissory notes; in effect they took money from new investors to make payments to earlier ones. In addition, they allegedly made false statements to banks to secure more financing. <o:p></o:p></p> <p>Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani says Sunrise Equities allegedly defrauded more than 300 Muslim investors, who lost about $30 million. Three banks lost nearly $14 million more.<o:p></o:p></p> <p>Harjani says this is the first alleged fraud scheme in <st1:city w:st="on">Chicago</st1:city> to use a pillar of Islam to lure investors.<o:p></o:p></p> <p>&ldquo;These individuals were targeted because they were looking for investments that were Shariah compliant and upheld the principles they believed in,&rdquo; Harjani said.<o:p></o:p></p> <p>Two of the defendants, Salman Ibrahim and Mohammad Akbar Zahid, are charged with various counts of mail, bank and wire fraud, as well as making false statements to financial institutions. They allegedly fled the country after the company collapsed. <o:p></o:p></p> <p>The third man, Amjed Mahmood, of <st1:city w:st="on">Des Plaines</st1:city>, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud. He faces arraignment later.<o:p></o:p></p> <p>The defendants allegedly used some of the money for other projects, including a motorcycle parts manufacturer, a gas station and a medical equipment sales company.<o:p></o:p></p> <p>The indictment claims Ibrahim also used the money to buy a plot of land for a home, to lease cars and operate an Islamic school to boost his reputation in the community. Zahid allegedly renovated his personal residence, while Mahmood is accused of making mortgage payments on his condo.<o:p></o:p></p> <p>Prosecutor Sunil Harjani said the investigation reinforces that it&rsquo;s important to be cautious when investing, and watch for red flags like the promise of returns that seem too good to be true.<o:p></o:p></p> <p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 17 Nov 2010 21:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/criminal-justice/alleged-ponzi-scheme-had-unusual-hook-investors-religion