The Arizona Attorney General’s office will distribute almost $2 million in recovered funds to Bankcard Empire scam victims who were deceived to buy fraudulent business opportunities.
In a statement, Attorney General Mark Brnovich said his office already submitted a Victim Compensation Plan to the court for review and approval. Once the court approves the plan, his office will disperse the recovered funds in two phases to at least 1,894 Bankcard Empire scam victims.
Bankcard Empire victims who will come forward before the second phase of the distribution of recovered funds will be added to the victim pool. They will also receive compensation, according to AG Brnovich.
In 2009, the Attorney General’s Financial Remedies Section (FRS) and the U.S. Postal Inspector conducted an investigation into consumer complaints against Bankcard Empire, which was operated by Leslie Mersky.
VicBankcard Empire scam victims lost thousands of dollars
Detectives found that a network of individuals made initial calls to consumers. The calls were designed to “hook” their target victims with “get-rich-quick” business opportunities offered by Bankcard Empire.
Bankcard Empire claimed that it was selling credit card swiping machines, which were sent to victims via certified mail to get their signatures. The company’s operator then used the signatures to forge credit card forms and put charges against the victims for services. Authorities found that thousands of dollars were bilked from victims across the country.
In 2010, law enforcement authorities raided four Bankcard Empire locations in Phoenix and arrested Mersky.
The FRS seized cash, bank accounts, 12 vehicles, 14 parcels of real property and miscellaneous personal property pursuant to the court-issued search and seizure warrants on the offices of Bankcard Empire and its affiliates.
The FRS recovered more than $1,800,000 through the forfeiture and liquidation of the seized property. Advocates for the Office of Victim Services (OVS) worked with victims to determine the amount of their losses from the Bankcard Empire scam.
According to the Arizona AG’s offices, the state law allows law enforcement to use civil forfeiture statutes to seize and forfeit property that’s been used in criminal activity and compensate victims who suffered economic loss.
In March 2018, he received a sentence of 2.5 years in prison for forgery, fraudulent schemes and deceptions.