Australia Extradites Two Defendants in Auto-Subscribing Cyber Fraud Scheme

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Saturday, February 13, 2021
Bruce Zagaris

On January 25, 2021, Michael Pearse, an Australian national, and Yongchao Liu, a Chinese national, arrived in the United States after Australia extradited them. An indictment charges them of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Pearse is also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, arising from the defendants’ participation in a scheme to charge mobile phone customers millions of dollars in monthly fees for unsolicited, recurring text messages about topics such as horoscopes, celebrity gossip, and trivia facts, with the customers’ knowledge or consent. This practice is known as “auto-subscribing.”[1]

[1]    U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney Announces Extradition of Two Defendants in Multimillion-Dollar Text Messaging Consumer Fraud Scheme,  Press Rel. 21-015, Jan. 26, 2021.