Former Pageant Winner Charged With Fraud
Ex-Mrs. Nevada and husband imprisoned
September 11, 2009
A former pageant winner has traded her sash and evening gown for prison garb as she awaits trial on fraud-related charges.
Authorities believe Juliette Kimoto, who was crowned Mrs. Nevada in 2006, duped consumers of cash through a web site offering fraudulent promises of government grant assistance, The Las Vegas Sun reported Sept. 9. Her spouse Kyle Kimoto, who once earned the title “Husband of the Year,” is accused of having developed a separate fraudulent scheme.
Authorities allege Juliette Kimoto is behind a sham Web site promising consumers assistance in accessing federal stimulus funding. Kimoto’s Web site was one of several shut down in August by a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation dubbed “Operation Short Change,” PCWorld reported. The sweep netted 15 FTC cases, 44 law enforcement actions by the Department of Justice, and actions by at least 13 states and the District of Columbia, according to the FTC.
The ex-Mrs. Nevada’s site included photos of President Barack Obama and rippling American flags in its offer of assistance to obtain government grants in return for a small fee. While an online testimonial touted an easy as point-and-click program, those scammed actually received a “worthless computer program ... that does not actually help consumers obtain a grant,” according to the FTC. Worse still, the victims were often enrolled in additional programs (such as identity theft protection or legal services) that had recurring “membership fees.”
Scammers target desperate“Scammers these days are exploiting a vague knowledge that there’s been this injection of stimulus funds into the economy,” said FTC staff attorney Karen Hobbs. “It’s very destructive. People struggling to make ends meet are more susceptible in a down economy.”
The number of victims is “unclear,” according to The Sun, but “it’s believed the business generated millions in fraudulent revenue.”
Authorities have confirmed more about the details of Kyle Kimoto’s operation. He is currently serving a 29-year federal prison sentence for stealing more than $43 million from roughly 30,000 people through an international telemarketing scheme promising people previously denied credit cards a MasterCard in exchange for a pricey processing fee.
Attorneys allege Juliette Kimoto used at least $30,000 in revenue from her own grant scheme to pay for jury consulting in her husband’s case, The Sun reported. Juliette Kimoto was scheduled to appear in court Sept. 11 along with seven other co-conspirators, according to PCWorld.
Yet another reason to be wary of giving out your personal information online.
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Prosecutor Seeks Life Sentence for Identity Thief
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