The Miami Herald recently reported that Alberto Rodriguez, a customs broker who lived in South Florida, used imported cigars to run a $503,000 fraud scheme.
Rodriguez operated his customs business in Queens, New York where he used mail to send fraudulent statements to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in Miami, Florida. When giving his guilty plea, Rodriguez stated that two companies wanted to import a large amount of cigars so they used his services to do so. As a customs broker, it was his job to make sure the correct duties and taxes were paid.
Rodriguez created documents that included false statements in regards to how many large cigars the companies were importing and the amount of Federal Tobacco Excise Tax that was owed. These documents were mailed but Rodriguez created invoices for the two companies that reflected the actual amount of cigars that were imported and the right excise tax that was owed. He then proceeded to pay the Customs and Border Patrol the taxes that were on the fraudulent documents that he’d originally sent to Customs, therefore making a profit from the fraudulent statements.
Rodriguez attempted to cover his fraudulent activity by changing the invoices and bank records before sending them to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Before being discovered, Rodriguez reportedly made $503,681.15. He now faces sentencing on Aug. 22, 2018 and faces time in federal prison on the charges of mail fraud.