LAWFUEL – Law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, announced today that former Florida attorney Martin Eugene Haber was sentenced to 63 months in prison on mail and wire fraud charges. A hearing to determine restitution to more than 100 victims was scheduled for January 4, 2007. Haber has resigned from The Florida Bar.
Haber, 58, was the owner and operator of South Dixie Rare Coins, a business that operated for more than 20 years in Miami. Haber also sold collectibles and rare coins on the Internethttp://www.baseballpicks.net,http://www.nflfootballpicks.tv,http://www.nbabasketballpicks.net., on eBay. He previously entered a guilty plea on June 13, 2006, to seven counts of mail and wire fraud.
This investigation began after the Internet Fraud Complaint Center received more than 50 complaints from buyers who did not receive the merchandise they purchased from Haber on eBay. An additional 50 complaints were reported by unsatisfied buyers with the Consumer Sentinel and local police departments. Over all, more than 188 complaints were lodged for merchandise purchased between May, 2001, to January, 2005, with a resulting loss of approximately $1,000,000. Despite two prior arrests by local law enforcement for similar activities, Haber continued to sell items on the Internet using a variety of names, including those of his family and friends.
While some complainants received their merchandise or a refund from Haber, months after the original sale, many victims received nothing. Those that received either a partial shipment or a refund were typically complainants who exerted extreme pressure on Haber, such as enlisting the assistance of law enforcement; confronting Haber at his place of business; or threatening to contact an attorney. Haber used newer fraudulent transactions to refund these victims, perpetuating a cycle of fraud.
The evidence revealed that Haber used eBay accounts belonging to friends, family members, and business associates to sell coins on the Internet. Haber often assumed the identity of an eBay account holder, so the buyer believed they were purchasing the coins from someone other than Haber. Many of the eBay accounts Haber used had been suspended due to buyer complaints. Haber also rented mail boxes to change the name and location of his businesses and used check cashing stores to process money received from potential purchasers.
According to the evidence, complaints against Haber were related to the following eBay accounts: coinsandcurrency, registered to Martin Haber and Tillie T. Arenson Haber (Martin Haber’s wife), 8610 SW 64th Avenue, Miami, Florida, e-mail address [email protected]; hgh-for-collectors; southdix, registered to Leslie B. Lundstrom, 12265 South Dixie Highway, Miami, Florida, e-mail address [email protected];mailto:[email protected] antiquetymes, registered to Mary L. Garcia, 7701 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, Florida, e-mail address [email protected]; greeneagle47, registered to Diana M. Harper, 19751 Sterling Drive, Cutler Ridge, Florida, e-mail address [email protected]; keybrickell, registered to Christopher Di Pietro, 801 Brickell Key Boulevard #2611, Miami, Florida, e-mail address [email protected]; naskamom2004, registered to Toni Arenson (an alias for Tillie T. Arenson Haber), 14115 South Dixie Highway #L, Miami, Florida, e-mail address [email protected]; and otcollectibles, registered to Sebastien Taggart, 5651 SW 76th Street #4, Miami, Florida, e-mail [email protected]
Haber repeatedly ignored warnings from law enforcement officers and continued to defraud customers, and was arrested twice, on April 24, 2003 and May 15, 2003, by the Coral Gables Police Department for defrauding various victims in this scheme. Despite these arrests, Haber continued to sell coins on the Internet until the time a search warrant was executed at his home and place of business.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Wilfredo Fernandez.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/ or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov/ .