‘Baseball Picks’ Scammer Jailed After 15 Years on the Lam
Posted on: August 17, 2021, 04:14h.
Last updated on: August 19, 2021, 03:11h.
A Florida fraudster who ran sham handicapper websites before going on the run for 15 years has been sentenced to 48 months in prison by a federal district judge in West Palm Beach.
One-time Boca Raton resident Randy Craig Levine, 54, was arrested in Austria in June 2020. He was nailed after being identified by facial recognition technology while trying to open a bank account under a false name. At the time, he was the subject of an Interpol Red Notice. He was extradited to the US in October 2020.
Fifteen years earlier, Levine had been the owner of baseballpicks.net, nflfootballpicks.tv and babasket-ballpicks.net websites. Here, he sold sports betting tips, and allowed registered customers the opportunity to invest in his purported gambling expertise.
He claimed he would use investors’ funds to open offshore or Las Vegas casino gambling accounts and win big. But according to prosecutors, he simply kept the money for himself.
The three tipster sites were registered and paid for by a shell company. Levine used aliases and fake accents while speaking to victims on the phone and sometimes played a casino floor recording to make it sound as if he were calling from a casino. He has been ordered to pay $600,000 in restitution to his victims.
Man of Mystery
In 2004, Levine was investigated by the FBI for mail fraud and wire fraud, and his passport was confiscated. But he obtained a new passport by lying on his application and promptly fled the US.
In 2008, Levine was arrested in Poland, but disappeared before he could be extradited to America.
He resurfaced a decade later in Guatemala when he was arrested at La Aurora International Airport on suspicion of money laundering and operating a passport-forging scam.
Because of the apparently genuine Russian passport he was carrying, Guatemalan authorities believed he was a Russian national named “Viktor Lapin.” However, his fingerprints matched those of a Guatemalan citizen named “Andre Santiago Santos Galindo.”
Despite his arrest making the TV news in the Central American country, Levine was later released from custody and quickly disappeared.
When he was finally detained in Austria two years later, he was carrying a Bulgarian passport that used the alias “Alexander Koslov.”
$5 Million Bitcoin Scam
In September 2020 he was charged with orchestrating a $5 million bitcoin scam with the help of a disbarred Florida lawyer, Philip Reichenthal.
According to prosecutors, investors were invited by Reichenthal to wire money to fund the purchase of bitcoin, but no such purchase took place. Instead, the money was allegedly funneled to overseas bank accounts controlled by Levine under his numerous aliases, including one account in Guatemala.
On May 17, 2021, Levine pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge relating to his fraudulent handicapping websites and perjury charges for his fraudulent passport application.
He is awaiting trial on several counts of commodities fraud and wire fraud for the alleged bitcoin scam.