Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of PERLA OZORIA, 30, VILMANIA DEJESUS, 30, and AMBAR OZORIA, 28, for stealing $28,000 from customers of a money transfer agency at two locations in East Harlem. PERLA OZORIA and VILMANIA DEJESUS are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Scheme to Defraud, Grand Larceny, and Petit Larceny, AMBAR OZORIA is charged with Grand Larceny.[1]

“The holidays were a lot less joyful for a group of New Yorkers sending the fruits of their labor to loved ones in foreign countries,” said District Attorney Vance. “The defendants allegedly had the audacity to offer a special December rate for high-dollar transfers to Mexico in order to lure even more customers through the door of their money transfer business.

“I’d like to thank the victims in this case for reporting this theft by calling my Office’s Immigrant Affairs Hotline. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office remains a safe place for undocumented New Yorkers to report crime. If you have been the victim of fraud, please call our Immigrant Affairs Hotline at 212-335-3600, no matter your immigration status. We are here to protect your safety and your rights.”

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, the defendants ran Girox Express Multiservices (“Girox Express”), a money transfer agency with locations in Manhattan and the Bronx. PERLA OZORIA was the compliance officer and day-to-day manager of Girox Express, her sister, AMBAR OZORIA and DEJESUS were employees. All three were responsible for processing money transfers for customers. Between November 1, 2016 and December 28, 2016, at two Girox Express locations in East Harlem, the defendants stole more than $28,000 from 21 customers who were attempting to send money to family members in Latin America. The victims were immigrants, and most did not speak English.

The defendants led customers to believe that they sent the money transfers as requested, but in reality, they stole the money for themselves. The scam operated in two ways: the defendants collected a customer’s money, initiated a money transfer online, provided the customer a receipt, but then immediately cancelled the transfer without the customer’s knowledge; or the defendants collected the customer’s money, then provided a fake receipt without ever initiating the money transfer.

The majority of the theft occurred in late December, when customers tended to send larger amounts to their families in Latin America for the holidays. During that time, the defendants advertised a “December Special Rate” for $1,000 transfers to Mexico. After learning that their money transfers had not been received, customers complained and requested refunds. The defendants did not provide refunds and told the customers a series of lies – including that the system was “down,” that the transfers were delayed because of the high volume of transactions around the holidays, or that the funds were being held by the banks in Latin America. By December 29, 2016, both Girox Express locations in East Harlem had abruptly closed. The victims reported the theft to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office by calling the Immigrant Affairs Hotline.

Assistant District Attorney Diego Diaz is handling the prosecution of the case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gloria Garcia, Chief of the Immigrant Affairs Unit and Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; Archana Rao, Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; and Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Sachs, Chief of the Investigation Division. Immigrant Affairs Program Coordinator Adriana Suarez, and Rackets Investigator Maria Coyt-Freda, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator Jonathan Reid, assisted with the investigation.

District Attorney Vance thanked Detective Brian Erbis of the NYPD’s Financial Crimes Task Force Special Frauds Squad and Investigator Victor Cruz of the Criminal Investigations Unit of the New York State Department of Finance for their assistance in the investigation.

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.

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