Peruvian Citizen Extradited To The U.S. For Operating Fraudulent Call Center Targeting U.S. Citizens

Jose Alejandro Zuñiga Cano

Jose Alejandro Zuñiga Cano, a resident of Lima, Peru, faced his first court appearance March 29 in Miami federal court following his extradition to the United States.

The 40-year-old stands accused of orchestrating a large-scale fraud and extortion scheme involving Peruvian call centers that preyed on Spanish-speaking individuals in the United States.

Zuñiga’s arrest on February 26, 2023, by Peruvian authorities came in response to a U.S. extradition request. He has been detained in Peru since then.

The indictment alleges that from January 2014 to February 2019, Zuñiga and his cohorts operated call centers in Peru, using internet-based telephone calls to target Spanish-speaking individuals in the U.S. Victims were falsely informed that they had won prizes, including computer tablets with English language courses.

Subsequently, victims were coerced into making significant payments to obtain these purported prizes.

“The Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch will pursue and prosecute transnational criminals responsible for defrauding vulnerable U.S. consumers, wherever they are located,” stated Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton. “The Justice Department and U.S. law enforcement will continue to work closely with law enforcement partners across the globe to bring to justice criminals who attempt to defraud U.S. victims from outside the United States.”

According to the indictment, Zuñiga and his associates posed as lawyers, court officials, and law enforcement officers, using threats of legal action, arrest, and negative credit reporting to coerce victims into making payments. In some instances, victims were re-targeted with a related restitution fraud scheme.

The defendant faces seven counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud, and extortion, with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) spearheaded the investigation, with crucial assistance from various agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida, State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Marshals Service, Peruvian National Police, and the Peruvian Attorney General’s Office.

The Justice Department continues to investigate and prosecute similar cases involving threats against Spanish-speaking U.S. residents. If you or someone you know has experienced financial fraud, contact the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311) for assistance.