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Notorious Online Gambling Operator Faces Charges

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Dec/10/2008

Jeff Pearson, one of the original "online gambling operation scammers", has been taken into custody by Costa Rican authorities.  Pearson first set up Lucky's Casino in the late 1990's then shut down owing countless numbers of customers money.

"This is one guy who has never learned!" said Clevfan, an industry sleuth who works on behalf of the website MajorWager.com.  She alluded to the fact that he continues to get into trouble and continues to scam. 

But this might be the final straw to break the camels back.

Law officers, acting on a U.S. warrant Tuesday, captured Pearson, a Florida resident, and he stands to face multiple charges of fraud, according to AM Costa Rica. The man is suspected of being one of nine persons who ran a series of scams from Costa Rica that collected up to $13 million from customers in the United States.

The products offered for sale ranged from franchises to sell coffee, health insurance and what was called energy products, said investigators.  Pearson is not believed to have been a part of the online gambling sector for a number of years.

The call center employees used voice-over-Internet protocol and U.S. mail drops to disguise the fact they were based out of the country, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization. The call center was based in Escazú and later in Office Centro la Sabana.

An agency spokesperson said that the operation had been going on for at least four years and that the suspect arrested Tuesday faced 450 separate cases.

AM Costa Rica points out that The Judicial Investigating Organization did not give a name, but the suspect is believed to be Jeff Pearson, 36, who has been linked to a number of franchise sales operations in Costa Rica, home to more online gambling sites than any other country.

The man was detained in Santa Ana where he was traveling with bodyguards. Investigators later searched his luxury home in Rohrmoser where they confiscated evidence that will be sent to the United States.

Pearson was last in the news in April 2006 when A.M. Costa Rica reported on a coffee franchise sales deal that used voice-over-Internet protocol and U.S. mail drops.

The firm was Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee, which was born after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the consumer watchdog there, convinced a judge to shut down USA Beverages, which was selling a coffee rack business opportunity using a product under the brand name of Cafe Del Rey, mostly to retired or semi-retired individuals. Customers paid from $35,000 to $85,000 to buy the racks for consumer distribution.

The marketing pitch appeared on the Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee website:

"With corporate America downsizing and the stability of Social Security questionable, pension plans are no longer the most secure investment in one's future. The only security you have today is the security you acquire for yourself."

The company found potential customers by placing classified ads in U.S. newspapers.

The Federal Trade Commission obtained a civil default judgment that basically turned over everything USA Beverage owned to the government. When Twin Peaks was reborn a short time later, it used a Web page hosted in England, according to AM Costa Rica.

The Federal Trade Commission estimated that telephone sales brought in $2.5 million to USA Beverages alone.  While the racks were in fact delivered, the employees misrepresented the potential income from these ventures. 

The civil case was heard in U.S. District Court in Florida's Southern Judicial District. Typically such civil investigations lead to criminal charges in extreme cases, AM Costa Rica stated.

It was not immediately clear if Pearson would be extradited back to the US or when.

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

 

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