Scams and shams — November 2015

The Las Vegas "Spam King" is sentenced for criminal contempt, while a southern California beauty queen gets a hefty fine for filing false workers’ compensation claims.


Ex-brother-in-law sues A-Rod $100M for fraud

Constantine Scurtis former brother-in-law and business partner of baseball star Alex Rodriguez, is suing the famed New York Yankees player for fraud in a US$100-million civil case in Miami court. The younger brother of A-Rod’s ex-wife, Cynthia, says Rodriguez used their real estate company, Newport Property Ventures Ltd., to commit insurance and mortgage fraud following Hurricane Ike in 2008. Scurtis also alleges Rodriguez “wrongfully” pushed him out of the business in 2008 and was responsible for a US$388,000 lien the IRS put on his Miami-area home after Rodriguez filed a false tax return.


Beauty queen's foot injury claim doesn't stand up

Beauty queen 

Shawna Lynn Palmer thought she was being clever when she claimed to have broken a toe at work and filed for workers’ compensation benefits. But the southern California woman shot herself in the foot when video was posted online of her competing in the Miss Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix beauty contest wearing, you guessed it, high heels. Palmer, 22, a clerk at Stater Bros., has been sentenced to perform 50 hours of community service and pay US$6,000 in fines and restitution for the fraud.


Tax preparer extradited

A former Vaughan, Ont., tax preparer has been extradited to Canada from Italy and is serving 10 years in jail for tax fraud. Doreen Tennina was convicted and sentenced in absentia in 2013 for fraudulently claiming carrying charges and charitable donations of $58,500,000 in 4,200 tax returns she prepared for clients from 2003 to 2005. The false claims reduced federal taxes owed by more than $10 million. Tennina was also ordered to pay a fine of $699,608 for causing her company, Executive Accounting, to fail to report income received from the tax evasion scheme.


Spam King pleads guilty

A Las Vegas man is facing up to three years in prison and a US$250,000 fine for sending more than 27 million spam messages to Facebook users. Sanford Wallace, 47, a.k.a. the Spam King, pleaded guilty to fraud and criminal contempt, admitting he accessed Facebook’s network and sent unsolicited ads disguised as friend requests to users of the social media site between November 2008 and February 2009. Wallace is free on bond and scheduled to be sentenced in December.


Province lost $2.5 million

Ontario pharmacist Mikhael Ayman was sentenced to two years less a day in jail for putting through $2.5 million in false claims to the provincial drug benefit program. Ayman, who owned and operated Wilson Medical Centre Pharmacy in Hamilton, pleaded guilty to overbilling the province and has repaid $2 million to the government. He must still repay the remaining $500,000 and has promised the Ontario College of Pharmacists he will never practise the profession again.