UPDATE, FEB. 10, 4:33 P.M.: United District Court Judge Robert N. Block in Santa Ana set Karen Elaine Hanover's bond at $75,000 this afternoon.
Her post-indictment arraignment is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 24 at the federal courthouse in Santa Ana.
ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 10, 4:05 P.M.: A 44-year-old Seal Beach woman was arrested today for allegedly using "spoofing" technology to impersonate FBI agents in phone calls threatening her business clients with prison stretches after they complained on an Internet blog she was scamming them.
Meanwhile, the FBI is also investigating Karen Elaine Hanover for the alleged scheme that may have used seminars to recruit would-be marks. The bureau released her photo in case anyone who may have been victimized recognizes her.
Karen Elaine Hanover allegedly used voice-altering technology to scam those who believed she was scamming them.Hanover, who was charged with impersonating a federal agent in a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in United District Court in Santa Ana, was arrested this morning by FBI special agents without incident at Fashion Island in Newport Beach.
According to the affidavit in support of the complaint:
- Hanover operated a real-estate service that charged clients a $30,000 "consulting fee" in exchange for providing unique information about favorable commercial properties;
- When some clients concluded that Hanover failed to deliver the promised services, they complained about the operation on an Internet blog and encouraged others to report the suspected fraud to the FBI and other federal authorities;
- During the second half of last year, an unsatisfied client was contacted by phone by someone with a male voice who claimed to be an FBI agent and whose caller ID was for the main number of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Division;
- The "agent" threatened to imprison the client on the line if she did not stop complaining about Hanover;
- Subsequent investigation revealed that calls from the purported male FBI agent were actually made from Hanover's cell phone and that a website was used to alter her voice and change the caller ID to "spoof" the FBI's Los Angeles Field Division phone number;
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- Further investigation revealed Hanover used the same website to "spoof" the FBI Miami Division's phone number, as well as the FBI Headquarters number in Washington, D.C., to discourage other disgruntled clients from complaining to authorities.
Hanover has an initial appearance this afternoon in the federal courthouse in Santa Ana
, but she had not yet entered a plea as this post was published.
If convicted, she could get up to three years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. That would be separate from any punishment she might incur if the FBI investigation into her real-estate service produces additional charges.
Anyone with information about the suspected fraud or the impersonating charge is encouraged to contact the FBI "24 hours a day/7 days a week" at (310) 477-6565.