Saturday, April 4, 2020

James Lee Burke On A Boy’s Memory Of America Amid The Coronavirus Epidemic: The Author Recalls How The Nation Rallied When World War II And The Polio Epidemic Threatened.


The Tampa Bay Times offers an essay by James Lee Burke on how America weathered earlier crises: 

Author James Lee Burke is best known for his bestselling books about Louisiana detective Dave Robicheaux, crime novels that delve into some of humanity’s darkest impulses. In this essay, Burke, who at age 83 has vivid memories of his childhood during World War II and the polio epidemic, writes about our better angels. 

The essay first appeared on Burke’s Facebook page and is printed with permission. Burke’s 40th book, and his latest about Robicheaux, A Private Cathedral, will be published by Simon & Schuster on May 26. — Colette Bancroft, Times book editor.

Hello, everyone. These are depressing times, but I would like to share with you some memories and lessons I always found helpful in dealing with what Gram Parsons called In My Darkest Hour.

I remember how frightened I was when, on December 7, 1941, at 1:15 p.m., a radio music program was interrupted in the little cafe where I was eating Sunday dinner with my parents. A news broadcaster informed everyone the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor. No one moved or spoke, as though they were inside a motion picture film and the projector had frozen the image on the screen. When a child sees fear in the faces of adults, the fear transfers to him like a contagion, magnified many times.

But I learned a quick lesson about the country I was born in. Men and women all over the nation stood in long lines to volunteer for the armed services. Every week President Franklin Roosevelt had one of his Fireside Chats with over 100 million people, assuring us that the only fear we needed to fear was fear itself. Food and gasoline were immediately rationed, but no one complained. My family’s ration book allowed us one small chicken and one small roast a week. It was impossible to buy sugar or butter. In four years I saw only one instance of hoarding. A man down the street was caught with a garage full of canned goods and fined heavily. He also lived the rest of his life in disgrace.

We had other problems as well. My family lived in the polio capital of America. Nobody knew what caused it or the origins of the virus. At age 8 I spent almost one year in bed with perhaps a case of polio or perhaps rheumatic fever or perhaps both. Diagnostic medicine was often based on speculation and was nothing like it is today. But I felt very sick and lived in fear of diseases that had control of my body, but could not be confronted or medicated or even adequately defined.

You can read the rest of the essay via the below link:

https://www.tampabay.com/arts-entertainment/2020/04/03/james-lee-burke-on-a-boys-memory-of-america/ 



You can also read my Washington Times On Crime column on James Lee Burke via the below link:

www.pauldavisoncrime.com/2020/04/my-washington-times-on-crime-column-on.html



And you can read my post on the Polio epidemic via the below link:

www.pauldavisoncrime.com/2020/03/a-look-back-at-polio-disease-that.html 

'Head 'Em Up And Move 'Em Out': How The TV Western Series 'Rawhide' Launched Clint Eastwood's Career

 
This Saturday morning, I watch a rebroadcast of Rawhide on the ME channel.

I loved the Western show when I was a kid, loved Frankie Lane's opening song, and I enjoy watching the shows again as an adult. It was on Rawhide that I first saw Clint Eastwood, who went on to e a major film actor. 

Courtney Campbell at WideOpenCountry.com offers a piece on how Rawhide launched Clint Eastwood’s career.  

The '50s and '60s were a glorious time for TV westerns. Has there been any other time in American television where we had such strong cowboy characters to watch every week? We had Bonanza, the Lone Ranger, Wagon Train, and Gunsmoke. But we also had the TV show that kicked off Clint Eastwood's western career: Rawhide

The show is set during the 1860s, capturing the cattle drive lifestyle. Eric Fleming stars as trail boss Gil Favor. Eastwood stars opposite him as Rowdy Yates, the young and feisty accomplice, who Favor continually keeps in check. Sheb Wooley played scout Pete Nolan, Paul Brinegar played the cook Wishbone, James Murdock played Wishbone's assistant "Mushy," Rocky Shahan, played drover Joe Scarlet, and Steve Raines played drover Jim Quince. It was a great group of characters to follow season after season.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:



Friday, April 3, 2020

Department Of Justice And Department Of Health And Human Services Partner To Distribute More Than Half A Million Medical Supplies Confiscated From Price Gougers


The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced the distribution of hoarded personal protective equipment (PPE), including approximately 192,000 N95 respirator masks, to those on the frontline of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response in New York and New Jersey.
The FBI discovered the supplies during an enforcement operation by the Department of Justice's COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force on March 30 and alerted HHS which used its authority under Defense Production Act (DPA) to order that the supplies be immediately furnished to the United States.  In addition to the N95 respirator masks, the supplies found included 598,000 medical grade gloves and 130,000 surgical masks, procedure masks, N100 masks, surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, bottles of hand sanitizer, and bottles of spray disinfectant.
"If you are amassing critical medical equipment for the purpose of selling it at exorbitant prices, you can expect a knock at your door," said Attorney General William P. Barr.  "The Department of Justice's COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force is working tirelessly around the clock with all our law enforcement partners to ensure that bad actors cannot illicitly profit from the COVID-19 pandemic facing our nation."
"Cracking down on the hoarding of vital supplies allows us to distribute this material to the heroic healthcare workers on the frontlines who are most in need," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.  "Thanks to the quick work of the White House, the Department of Justice, and HHS, the seized resources were distributed in days to the doctors, nurses and first responders who need them.  President Trump's all-of-America approach to combating the coronavirus involves an aggressive approach to stopping hoarding, and the American public can play a role by being on the lookout for this behavior."
HHS will pay the owner of the hoarded equipment pre-COVID-19 fair market value for the supplies and has begun distributing to meet the critical need for the supplies among healthcare workers in New York and New Jersey.
Specifically, after inspecting the supplies, HHS arranged for the delivery of the PPE to the New Jersey Department of Health, the New York State Department of Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
"This is the first of many such investigations that are underway," said Peter Navarro, DPA Policy Coordinator and Assistant to the President.  "Our FBI agents and other law enforcement agencies are tracking down every tip and lead they get, and are devoting massive federal resources to this effort.  All individuals and companies hoarding any of these critical supplies, or selling them at well above market prices, are hereby warned they should turn them over to local authorities or the federal government now or risk prompt seizure by the federal government."
Vendors interested in selling PPE to the federal government should contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency at https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus/how-to-help.  Anyone who learns of hoarding or price gouging of PPE should report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by dialing 1-866-720-5721 or emailing disaster@leo.gov.
HHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency continue to collaborate with private industry to overcome the shortage of PPE across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Defense Production Act and Presidential Executive Order are intended to prevent accumulation in excess of reasonable demands of business, personal, or home consumption, or for the purpose of resale at prices in excess of prevailing market prices, also known as hoarding and price gouging, of medical supplies critical to the COVID-19 response.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Raymond Chandler Wanted Cary Grant to Play Philip Marlowe


Olivia Rutigliano offers a piece at CrimeReads.com on the late, great crime novelist Raymond Chandler wanting actor Cary Grant to portray his iconic private eye character Philip Marlowe.
Humphrey Bogart will go down in history as the actor most associated with the detective character Phillip Marlowe, but he wasn’t the first actor to play him, and he wasn’t author Raymond Chandler’s first preference.
In 1944, the washed-up musical star Dick Powell played the sleuth in the first film adaptation of a Chandler novel Farewell, My Lovely (retitled to Murder, My Sweet, lest it seem like another musical). The movie relaunched Powell’s career, and Chandler was not disappointed with the casting decision. Powell bought an air of refinement that Chandler had initially envisioned for his P.I. But actually, he said later, the actor he most wanted to play his detective was Cary Grant.

What a movie that would have been. But anyway.
“I like people with manners, grace, some social intuition, an education slightly above the Reader’s Digest fan,” he mentioned in a letter to his colleague, the writer George Harmon Coxe. When writing to movie producer John Houseman, he stressed that Marlowe was an “honorable man” above all, and this quality needed to shine through.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 



Note: Think of Cary Grant portraying Marlowe as he portrayed a tough guy gambler in Mr. Lucky (seen in the top and above photos), as I noted in my Crime Beat column on Raymond Chandler.

You can read my Crime Beat column on Raymond Chandler via the below link:  

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux Crime Series


The Washington Times published my On Crime column about James Lee Burke and his popular fictional character Dave Robicheaux.

I was pleased to learn that James Lee Burke has a new crime novel coming out in May.


According to his publisher Simon & Schuster, James Lee Burke’s “A Private Cathedral” is his most powerful story. The novel mixes crime, romance, mythology, horror and science fiction, as well as the all-consuming and all-conquering power of love.

“A Private Cathedral” is his 40th book and his 23rd novel featuring Dave Robicheaux, a rugged and principled Cajun and New Iberia, Louisiana Sheriff’s Department detective.

I’ve reviewed several of his novels in these pages, including his last novel, “The New Iberia Blues.” The novel was a sequel to his previous novel, “Robicheaux,” and the upcoming “A Private Cathedral” is the third novel in his trilogy.

In “The New Iberia Blues” Dave Robicheaux visits a Hollywood director who returns to Louisiana to direct a film. Robicheaux knew the director when he was a New Orleans detective and the director, Desmond Cormier, was a street artist. When Robicheaux looked through Cormier’s telescope he sees the horrific sight of a young woman floating in the bay while nailed to a wooden cross. The novel, like all of James Lee Burke’s novels, offers violent conflict, sinister criminals and sad victims. I suspect “A Private Cathedral” will continue in the same vein.  

Although I disagree somewhat with his worldview, I believe the 83-year-old author is one of the best modern crime novelists and his character Dave Robicheaux (pronounced “Row-bih-show”) is one of the best detective characters in crime fiction today. His novels are superbly well-written, and they offer gritty realism with a strong moral tone. The popular series has been translated into nearly every language on the planet.

James Lee Burke is a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and a two-time recipient of its Edgar Award. He’s also the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Fiction. Born in Houston in 1936, James Lee Burke grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. He attended Southwestern Louisiana Institute for two years and graduated with honors from the University of Missouri.

He’s worked a good number of different jobs prior to becoming a full-time novelist. He’s worked as a social worker, an oil man, a newspaper reporter and a teacher, which gives him a wide breadth of knowledge of the human condition, which is evident in his work.

Mr. Burke is passionate about the environment, especially in Louisiana, and the blight of the oppressed. In his novels, he has Dave Robicheaux attempt to right wrongs, defend the innocent and punish the greedy, the crooked and the predators who prey on the innocent. 

You can read the rest of the column via the below link:

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/mar/31/james-lee-burkes-dave-robicheaux-crime-series-cont/




You can also read my Washington Times review of The New Iberia Blues via the below link:

www.pauldavisoncrime.com/2019/01/my-washington-times-review-of-james-lee.html


And you can read my Washington Times review of Robicheaux via the below link:  

www.pauldavisoncrime.com/2017/12/my-washington-times-review-of-james-lee.html 





Tuesday, March 31, 2020

My Washington Times Review Of 'Mengele: Unmasking The Angel of Death'


The Washington Times published my review of Mengele; Unmasking the Angel of Death.

Josef Mengele was one of the most notorious war criminals in history. During World War II the Nazi doctor performed medical experiments in a concentration camp on unwilling children and adults, and with a jerk of his thumb he sent many unlucky men, women and children to their immediate deaths.

He escaped justice after the Third Reich fell by fleeing the country and although his death was later confirmed, and his body uncovered in a cemetery in Brazil, his victims’ demand for justice has not been fulfilled, nor has it satisfied an abundant interest in his life and crimes.

David Marwell’s “Mengele: Unmasking the Angel of Death” is a fine addition to other biographies of the evil doctor, as it is partly a biography and partly a memoir, as historian David Marwell was the U.S. Justice Department’s chief of investigative research in the Office of Special Investigations in the 1980s.

Mr. Marwell was involved in the Mengele investigation and he performed numerous interviews of victims and other parties, examined documents and visited Germany and other countries around the world gathering evidence. He also coordinated the investigation with partners in Israel, Germany and other governments and private organizations. He even held Mengele’s bones in his hands.

“While this book is based on both primary sources from archives throughout the world and the careful research of a host of brilliant scholars, it also relies on the writings of Mengele himself,” Mr. Marwell writes. “I read his correspondence and diaries from his later life and was exposed to the intimate details of his health complaints, frustrations, and private reflections, and to the style and rhythm of his thoughts. In addition, I had access to Mengele’s own attempt at the very enterprise in which I was engaged.”

Mr. Marwell notes that late in Mengele’s life, he wrote but never published an autobiographical novel, which was about a man shaped in a very special way by his time, as Mengele put it.

You can read the rest o the review via the below link:

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/mar/30/book-review-mengele/  

China Researchers Isolated Deadly Bat Coronaviruses Near Wuhan Animal Market


Veteran national security reporter Bill Gertz offers a piece in the Washington Times on how Chinese government researchers performed scientific work on bat coronaviruses three miles from the "wet markets" identified as ground zero in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chinese government researchers isolated more than 2,000 animal viruses, including deadly bat coronaviruses, and carried out scientific work on them just three miles from a wild animal market identified as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several Chinese state media outlets in recent months touted the virus research and lionized in particular a key researcher in Wuhan, Tian Junhua, as a leader in bat virus work.

The coronavirus strain now infecting hundreds of thousands of people globally mutated from bats believed to have infected animals and people at a wild animal market in Wuhan. The exact origin of the virus, however, remains a mystery.

Reports of the extensive Chinese research on bat viruses likely will fuel more calls for Beijing to make public what it knows about such work.

“This is one of the worst cover-ups in human history, and now the world is facing a global pandemic,” Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas Republican and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said last week. Mr. McCaul has said China should be held accountable for the pandemic.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/mar/30/china-researchers-isolated-bat-coronaviruses-near-/ 

Monday, March 30, 2020

Babylon Bee: Chick-Fil-A Temporarily Changes Slogan To 'Eat Fewer Bats'


Noting that informed sources have identified the origin of the COVID-19 outbreak to the “wet markets” in China, where bats and other exotic animals are considered a delicacy, the satiric Babylon Bee offers a great piece. 

ATLANTA, GA—In an effort to help curb the spread of Coronavirus, Chick-fil-a has announced that it will temporarily be changing its advertising slogan from "Eat Mor Chikin" to "Eat Fewer Bats."

The chicken sandwich chain will run public health ads and billboards with its iconic cow mascots reminding people to "eat fewer bats" and "have a delicious chicken sandwich instead."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Get Shorty at 30: Dennis Lehane on Elmore Leonard's Hollywood satire


The late, great Elmore "Dutch" Leonard is one of my favorite writers and Get Shorty is one of his best crime novels.


The Guardian offers Dennis Lehane's fine introduction to the Folio Society Edition of Elmore Leonard’s Get Shorty on the novel’s 30th anniversary. 


 
You can read the piece via the below link:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/26/pitch-perfect-get-shorty-at-30-elmore-leonard-dennis-lehane 



   You can also read my Crime Beat column on Elmore Leonard via the below link:

www.pauldavisoncrime.com/2009/05/return-to-elmoreland-elmore-leonards.html 



And you can read my friend and former editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer Frank Wilson's piece on Elmore Leonard via the below link:

 https://www.inquirer.com/philly/entertainment/20121111_Crime_paid_this_writer__in_dollars_
and_honors.html



Vietnam War Veterans Day 2020


Once again the country offers a day to show appreciation for the veterans of the Vietnam War.


My brother Ed served in the U.S. Army at Chu Lai, South Vietnam in 1968-1969.


I served in the U.S. Navy on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk on "Yankee Station" off the coast of North Vietnam in 1970-1971.


You can read my Washington Times piece on the Vietnam War via the below link:

www.pauldavisoncrime.com/2017/11/another-view-of-vietnam-war.html


You can also read my post on the USS Kitty Hawk on Yankee Station via the below link:

www.pauldavisoncrime.com/2018/03/on-yankee-station-look-back-at-aircraft.html

Bent Not Broken: Tested By Wars, Storms And Terrorists, America Always Survives


Washington Times columnist Scott Walker offers a column on why America will survive the COVID-19 outbreak.

A tornado hit Merrill, Wisconsin, back in 2011 and did a great deal of damage. In addition to hitting a number of homes in town, the tornado ripped up several small businesses including a place called Northern Wire. The owner took some of the metal that was torn from their building and made it into keychains with the words, “Bent Not Broken” stamped on the side.

As a society, we too feel like we are in the middle of a storm. Worst of all is the unknown.

How much worse will it get? 

… During the Revolutionary War, we faced nearly impossible odds. At the time, Great Britain was, as Smithsonian Magazine says, “the greatest world power and owner of the planet’s most threatening navy.” Yet the early patriots won our independence from the British Empire. America was bent but not broken.

One in four soldiers who left home to fight in the Civil War never returned. An estimated 620,000 (about 2 percent of the population at the time) soldiers lost their lives in the line of duty. America was bent but not broken.

… The Great Depression began with the Stock Market Crash in the fall of 1929. Unemployment peaked at 25 percent in 1933. Droughts through the heartland and factory closings lead to a major decline in the economy and thousands of homeless. America was bent but now broken.

Surprise attacks on Pearl Harbor drew the United States into World War II. During the war, we faced nearly insurmountable odds at places like Normandy. Still, we achieved victory 75 years ago. America was bent but not broken.

Radical Islamic terrorists took over commercial aircraft that crashed into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a cornfield in Pennsylvania.The attacks were planned to strike fear in the hearts of U.S. citizens and our allies around the world. America was bent but not broken.

Our nation has been tested many times in our history. With God’s help, however, we will emerge from this current crisis Bent Not Broken!

You can read the rest of the column via the below link:

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/mar/26/tested-by-wars-storms-and-terrorists-america-alway/ 

Note: The above photo is of Jasper John’s Three Flags.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain Warns About Fraud Related To The Coronavirus Crisis And Provides Tips To The Public


The U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania released the below:

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain warned the public today about the growing number and variety of fraud schemes associated with the coronavirus. He offered guidance to help prevent the public from being victimized by these frauds.  

“Over the past few weeks, there has been a significant number of frauds committed across the country related to the coronavirus pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “The fact that criminals seek to exploit the pandemic by preying on the worries and fears of the public in this difficult time is despicable. My Office will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to protect the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. We will leave no stone unturned to find these criminals and bring them to justice.”
Below are some of the known fraudulent schemes related to the coronavirus pandemic:
·         Fake cures: Fraudsters are advertising fake cures, fake vaccines, and so-called “immunity” pills, and including wild claims about the products’ healing powers with no scientific or medical basis.

·         Fake testing: Fraudsters are selling fake at-home testing kits or going door-to-door performing fraudulent tests in exchange for money.

·         Health care frauds: Fraudsters are offering free (and phony) coronavirus testing to obtain Medicare or other healthcare insurance information, which they use to submit false claims for benefits.

·         Fake protection and supplies: Fraudsters are advertising fake or un-tested protective equipment (including respirator masks) through websites, social media, and robocalls. The fraudsters have no real equipment to sell, or provide equipment that has not been proven to work for its advertised purpose.

·         Phishing: Fraudsters are posing as representatives from well-known institutions, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in order to trick victims into downloading malware or providing personal identifying and financial information.

·         Fake health care providers: Fraudsters pose as doctors or hospital employees and contact individuals via phone or email. They make false claims that they treated a relative or friend for coronavirus and demand money for the claimed treatment.

·         Identity theft: Fraudsters are using social media to fraudulently seek donations or provide stimulus funds if the victim provides a bank account number or other personal identifying information. The fraudsters use the information entered by the victim to impersonate the victim and steal money from the victim’s bank account.

·         Securities fraud: Fraudsters are promoting securities in publicly traded companies that they falsely claim have discovered the cure for coronavirus.

·         Fake charities: Fraudsters are soliciting donations for charities to allegedly benefit people affected by the virus and pocketing the money for themselves.  

The U.S. Attorney’s Office urges everyone to follow these tips to better protect themselves from these types of fraud schemes:
·         Ignore unsolicited offers for coronavirus cures, vaccines, pills, or treatment.  If there is a medical breakthrough, you will not hear about it first through an email, advertisement, or door-to-door sales pitch. Be aware that fraudsters often use addresses that differ only slightly from the entities that they are impersonating, such as “cdc.com” or “cdc.org” instead of “cdc.gov.”

·         Do not share personal information with strangers. Be extremely cautious about unsolicited emails or ads that request your personal information for any purpose. Legitimate healthcare providers will not call or email you and demand medical information, personal identifying information, or money for treatment they have provided to a friend or relative. Report the contact to law enforcement. 

·         Do not open emails or links from unknown sources. In doing so, you could download malware or a virus onto your computer or device. 

·         Be extremely cautious when sending money in any form. If a business, charity, or individual is requesting payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card, or through the mail, be careful. Take extra steps to verify the identity of the receiving party and the security of the transaction.

·         Have up-to-date software protections on your devices. Be sure the anti-virus and anti-malware software on your computer or device is operating and up-to-date. 

If you or someone you know has been the target or victim of a fraud scheme related to the coronavirus, please report the incident to the national hotline at The National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721 or at disaster@leo.gov.

District Court Orders Injunctions Against Two Telecom Carriers Who Facilitated Hundreds Of Millions Of Fraudulent Robocalls To Consumers In The United States: First Of Their Kind Injunctions Obtained By Justice Department


The U.S. Justice Department released the below information: 
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York entered orders in two separate civil actions, barring eight individuals and entities from continuing to facilitate the transmission of massive volumes of fraudulent robocalls to consumers in the United States, the Department of Justice announced today. 
In one of the matters, United States v. Nicholas Palumbo, et al., the District Court entered a preliminary injunction that bars two individuals and two entities from operating as intermediate voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) carriers during the pendency of the civil action.  In the other matter, United States v. John Kahen, et al., the District Court entered consent decrees that permanently bar an individual and three entities from operating as intermediate VoIP carriers conveying any telephone calls into the U.S. telephone system.
“These massive robocall fraud schemes target telephones of residents across our country, many of whom are elderly or are otherwise potentially vulnerable to such schemes,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division.  “The department is committed to stopping this unlawful conduct and pursuing those who knowingly facilitate these schemes for their own financial gain.”
“This office will take all appropriate measures to stop fraudulent robocalling schemes responsible for causing catastrophic losses to victims, including seeking to permanently shut down the U.S.-based enablers of such schemes,” said United States Attorney Richad P. Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York.  “Protecting elderly and vulnerable individuals from being conned by foreign call center scammers remains a priority of this office and the Department of Justice.”
As alleged in the complaints, the defendants in both cases operated as VoIP carriers, receiving internet-based calls from other entities, often located abroad, and transmitting those calls first to other carriers within the United States and, ultimately, to the phones of individuals.  Numerous foreign-based call centers are alleged to have used the defendants’ VoIP carrier services to pass fraudulent government- and business-imposter robocalls to victims in the United States.  The defendants also sold U.S. phone numbers to foreign entities, which were used as victim call-back numbers as part of massive robocalling fraud schemes.
As also alleged, the defendants were warned numerous times that they were carrying fraudulent robocalls — including calls impersonating government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, the IRS, and legitimate businesses, such as Microsoft — and yet continued to carry those calls and facilitate fraud schemes targeting individuals in the United States.  Many of the robocalls were made by foreign fraudsters impersonating government investigators and conveying alarming messages, such as: the recipient’s social security number or other personal information has been compromised or otherwise connected to criminal activity; the recipient faces imminent arrest; the recipient’s assets are being frozen; the recipient’s bank and credit accounts have suspect activity; the recipient’s benefits are being stopped; the recipient faces imminent deportation; or combinations of these threats.  Each of these claims was a lie, designed to scare the call recipient into paying large sums of money.  These calls led to massive financial losses to elderly and other vulnerable victims throughout the United States.
“The court’s decision sends a clear message to gateway carriers who knowingly do business with scammers targeting Americans from overseas,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration.  “We will continue to pursue those who facilitate these scam calls by allowing them into the U.S. telephone network.  I want to thank the Department of Justice for its support throughout this investigation and its commitment to protecting Americans from this insidious form of fraud and theft.”
United States v. Nicholas Palumbo, et al.
In the first case, the District Court issued a preliminary injunction against spouses Nicholas and Natasha Palumbo of Scottsdale, Arizona, and the Arizona companies they own and operate, Ecommerce National LLC d/b/a TollFreeDeals.com and SIP Retail d/b/a sipretail.com.  The District Court held, in a written opinion, that the evidence presented by the United States demonstrated probable cause to conclude that the defendants were engaged in “widespread patterns of telecommunications fraud, intended to deprive call recipients in the Eastern District of New York and elsewhere of money and property.”
The preliminary injunction issued by the court bars those defendants from carrying any VoIP calls destined for phones in the United States and providing any U.S. telephone numbers (often used as call-back numbers in the fraudulent robocalling schemes) to any individuals or entities during the pendency of this litigation.  The court noted that though defendants had been warned more than 100 times of specific instances of fraudulent calls being transmitted through their network, they never severed their business relationship with any entity they learned was associated with fraudulent call traffic, prior to the United States’ filing of its lawsuit.  The court further noted that “the telecommunications ‘intermediary’ industry is set up perfectly to allow fraudulent operators to rotate telephone numbers endlessly and blame other parties for the fraudulent call traffic they carry,” that the United States “demonstrat[ed] probable cause to conclude that defendants’ business is permeated with fraud,” that “multiple individual victims in the United States suffered significant fraud losses,” and that “[e]very day that the defendants’ actions in this vein continue, the public is at risk of harm in the form of additional high-dollar fraud losses.”
The claims in the United States v. Nicholas Palumboet al. matter are allegations only, and there has not been any final determination of liability or wrongdoing.
United States v. John Kahen, et al.
In the second case, the District Court entered consent decrees permanently resolving the matter against five individuals and entities who were also operating intermediary VoIP carriers.  The court entered a consent decree on March 2, 2020 against Jon Kahen, a/k/a Jon Kaen of New York, and New York corporations Global Voicecom Inc. and Global Telecommunication Services Inc., permanently barring those defendants from, among other things, using the U.S. telephone system to: deliver prerecorded messages through automatic means, carry calls to the United States from foreign locations, and provide calling and toll-free services for calls originating in the United States.  In addition, the defendants are permanently barred from serving as employees, agents, or consultants to any person or entity engaged in these activities.  In a second consent decree, entered on March 24, 2020, the District Court barred KAT Telecom Inc., a New York corporation, from conveying or causing any other person or entity from conveying fraudulent telephone calls, fraudulent recordings, and unauthorized “spoofed” telephone calls.  In the event that KAT Telecom, Inc. resumes operations, it must also implement strong anti-fraud measures, including anti-fraud monitoring, mitigation, and know-your-customer measures.
The claims resolved by the settlement in the United States v. Jon Kahenet al. matter are allegations only, and there has not been any final determination of liability or wrongdoing. 
These cases are being handled by Trial Attorneys Ann F. Entwistle and Charles B. Dunn of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bonni Perlin, Dara Olds, and Evan Lestelle of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, in coordination with the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  Investigative support was also provided by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation’s El Dorado Task Force and U.S. Secret Service.  The Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission also provided pertinent data.  
Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts may be found at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch.  For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, visit its website at https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny.