Scam investigation: Feds pursue Peru residents' money

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BURLINGTON — The Secret Service is attempting to retrieve $100,000 from a Canadian bank, funds believed to have been sent by a Peru resident in response to an investment scam online.

A Secret Service agent has asked the Vermont District Court to issue a warrant to seize the funds, which is being held at a TD Bank in Toronto, according to court records. The court hasn't issued a response as of Wednesday.

The money belongs to two Peru residents, identified only as "F.T." and "R.T.," said Secret Service Senior Resident Agent Matt Moughty in his warrant request Monday.

F.T. reportedly sent $50,030 on May 19 and another $50,000 on May 21 after a man, who identified himself as Patrick Mazza of Evolution Mentor Capital Inc., emailed her out of the blue, inviting her to invest in "cryptocurrency mining" and "distributed energy mining."

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He wrote that the cryptocurrency mining scheme had zero risk yet a 507 percent financial return, Moughty's affidavit states. The promise of risk-free investment "is not only impossible," Moughty said, "but fallacious and intentionally misleading."

R.T. found out about the wire transfers on May 21 and got in touch with their bank, People's United Bank, as well as law enforcement. This started police investigations that revealed details such as: Mazza's investment offering was a violation of Vermont law, because he wasn't registered as a broker-dealer or investment advisor representative, and Mazza registered his company in Canada after he'd already offered his products to F.T.

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Also, R.T. said that F.T. is suffering from mental health issues. The Secret Service declined to respond to questions Wednesday, including the nature of the relationship between R.T. and F.T., citing the agency's policy of not commenting on ongoing investigations.

R.T. has apparently emailed Mazza, asking for the cancellation of F.T.'s investment agreement with him and the return of the $100,000. Mazza threatened both civil and criminal legal actions, according to Moughty's affidavit.

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He also threatened to sue TD Bank for refusing to release the funds, which the bank is holding after U.S. law enforcement informed them of the suspected criminal activity.

Vermont District Court records show no criminal charges filed against Mazza, or under his other name of Pasqualino Michael Mazza.

In order to return the $100,000, Moughty said Canada is requiring that U.S. officials follow both court and formal diplomatic procedures.

Contact Tiffany Tan at ttan@benningtonbanner.com or @tiffgtan on Facebook and Twitter.


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