crimes

Mexico’s Sergio Leon Kuri, Claudia Antillon Zahuita plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud

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Sergio Leon Kuri, 40, and Claudia Elena Antillon Zahuita, 38, have each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They are both residents and citizens of Mexico.

On September 29, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Jane Triche Milazzo of the Eastern District of Louisiana sentenced Leon Kuri to 60 months in prison and Antillon Zahuita to 48 months in prison. The judge also gave the two a $100 mandatory special assessment fee and three years of supervised release.

Leon Kuri is also known as LNK while Antillon Zahuita also went by the names KLA and Julie Batista. On October 3, 2019, a federal grand jury indicted them and their fellow Mexican citizens Liza Flanery Fierro, 35, Julio Cesar Rivera Rojas, 34, Jesus Adrian Ledesma Bernal, 33, and Martin Alonso Aceves Custodio, 31, for one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

wads of dollar bills (©Celyn Kang)
wads of dollar bills (©Celyn Kang)

From at least January 1, 2016 to the present, Leon Kuri, Antillon Zahio, Flanery Fierro, Rivera Rojas, Ledesma Bernal and Aceves Custodio allegedly conspired together and with others to commit wire fraud in connection with a telemarketing scheme that targeted and victimized persons in Canada, the United States and South American countries. They allegedly made unsolicited phone calls to owners of resort timeshare properties and induced them into paying fees associated with the bogus sale of their property. 

In the U.S., the group had 40 victims who were aged 60 and older. Collectively, these American victims lost at least $20,000,000.

Leon Kuri, Antillon Zahio, Flanery Fierro, Rivera Rojas, Ledesma Bernal and Aceves Custodio misrepresented the existence of a buyer for their timeshare and solicited money from the victims to facilitate the sale. Although there were no interested buyers, the conspirators solicited the timeshare owners to enter into agreements to sell their timeshares and pay for so-called closing costs with electronic wire transfers from banking institutions within the U.S. to Mexican banks.

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Unbeknownst to the victims, the conspirators just pocketed the advanced fees. The timeshares were not resold and the closings did not occur.

The conspirators operated under the business names Newport International Investments and Planet Travel. At other times used other business names including Advance Travel INC, All American Real Estate, American International Investment Group, Bear Claw Travel, Best Investment Services, Champion Properties, Closing Source LLC, Equity Closing Services Group, Global Offshore Services, NSC Holding, Peach Title, Sandia Title, Travel and Acquisitions, Travel Innovations, Travel Plus Acquisitions, Travel Right and World Travelers, Inc.

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