Wolfgang Valvoda, 44, who did business out of Bratislava, Slovakia, was indicted by a federal grand jury for his role in an international mass marketing business directory scheme that defrauded consumers throughout the United States and Canada, including victims in Madison and Richland counties in the Southern District of Illinois, U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton said in a press release Friday.
The grand jury charged Valvoda with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and two counts of mail fraud. If convicted, each count subjects Valvoda to a term in federal prison of up to 20 years, a fine of up to $250,000 and three years of supervised release.
As alleged in the indictment, Valvoda worked for Construct Data Publishers, a.s., a corporation based in Bratislava, Slovakia, and related companies. Using deceptive mailings, Valvoda attempted to deceive businesses and nonprofit organizations in the United States and other countries to pay for unordered listings. Businesses were led to believe that the form sent by Valvoda, then signed and returned by the victim, was only for verification of information in a free listing for a particular trade show that the business regularly attended and not an order for an expensive listing in a different and worthless Internet directory called Fairguide.
On April 17, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission obtained a court-ordered preliminary injunction against Valvoda and Construct Data Publishers, a.s., which prohibited further deceptive mailings. The Federal Trade Commission investigated this scheme and brought a civil complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. The indictment also alleges that from 2010 to 2013, more than 1,000 businesses across the country were scammed by Valvoda and Construct Data Publishers, a.s., out of more than $2 million.
These prosecutions follow an investigation by the Midwest Region Office of the Federal Trade Commission and the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the U.S. Postal Service. This prosecution will be handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael J. Quinley and Bruce E. Reppert.