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Miami man faces 114 charges in $2 million unclaimed property fraud scheme

A Miami man booked into the Leon County Jail Thursday faces 114 charges in connection to a $2...
A Miami man booked into the Leon County Jail Thursday faces 114 charges in connection to a $2 million unclaimed property fraud scheme.
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 2:37 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A Miami man booked into the Leon County Jail Thursday faces 114 charges in a $2 million unclaimed property fraud scheme.

From April 29, 1999, to March 3, 2020, Alvaro Abreu made fake claims for unclaimed property belonging to people associated with or living in Venezuela, totaling more than $2 million, court documents say.

Leon County court records show Abreu was arrested by Broward County Sheriff’s deputies on July 1. Court records show he was booked into the Leon County Jail and released later the same day, July 8, after posting a $178,000 bond.

An arrest photo of Abreu is not available in the court records or the Leon County Jail’s daily booking report.

Florida’s Department of Financial Services’ investigative bureau was first alerted about possible fake documents connected to this scheme in April 2017.

DFS investigators say Abreu created phony companies and used fake Venezuelan passports to trick financial firms to act as a power of attorney on his behalf when making fraudulent claims. Investigators combed through the large digital paper trail — sifting through hundreds of emails between the financial firms and Abreu’s many aliases, the probable cause affidavit says.

Those emails included the fake documents used to make the claims seem legitimate, and the affidavit says investigators noticed the handwriting was similar in many of these cases connected to Venezuela. DFS was able to connect the claims back to Abreu based on the IP addresses these emails were sent from, the affidavit says.

Additionally, Abreu used an old Miami address for a shipping company that sends items to Venezuela and other countries, TL Cargo, on many of the fake documents, the affidavit says. This included the bank accounts for fake companies he deposited the checks into, according to the affidavit.

The second suspect listed in the court documents, Cristopher Abreu, is believed to be Alvaro Abreu’s brother, based on social media posts investigators monitored. Cristopher’s last known address was in Caracas, Venezuela.

Alvaro Abreu faces a total of 114 charges, including:

  • Invalid Claim for Unclaimed Property (both 1st-degree and 2nd-degree felonies)
  • Aggravated White-collar Crime (1st-degree felony)
  • Grand theft over $100K
  • Criminal Conspiracy
  • Organized Fraud
  • Communications Fraud
  • Fraudulent Use of Personal ID Info
  • Forgery

The state describes unclaimed property as “a financial asset that is unknown or lost, or has been left inactive, unclaimed or abandoned by its owner.” This includes forgotten bank accounts, the contents of safe deposit boxes, cars and boats. The unclaimed property winds up in the hands of Florida DFS when banks or businesses can’t locate the owners.

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