By CHERI ROBERTS for Challenging the Rhetoric
When a new friend suddenly seems like a miracle worker swooping in with a magic wand to cure all of your woes, you probably shouldn’t get too excited. And you certainly shouldn’t hop into any business ventures with them. In fact, you might want to run. Especially, if that new friend is Jaime Spears Aldazabal (aka Jaime Hawley) according to some prominent members of the militia and “Patriot” communities who say they were duped into becoming unwitting accomplices of a merchant account services and credit card scam that frauded hundreds of thousands of dollars from credit card victims in the United States, and Canada.
In allegations unrelated to Aldazabal’s 2009 FTC robocall case, Adiel Hemingway (FL), Consuelo Raigosa (FL), Manuel Vega (VA), Trease Kelley (VA), Melvin Lee (OH), Tracey Sturgess (FL) and Traci Segelstrom-Hurrle (FL) have all made claims against Aldazabal and both Thomas and Anthony Arrigoni. All 7 have spoken with me freely of their own accord, providing information and documentation to back their claims. In total there are 9 individuals known to have had merchant account dealings with Aldazabal, the 7 aforementioned people, and two others, Blaine Cooper (AZ) and John Hildinger (FL), who have not come forward with any accusations.
Here is a list of the types of crimes that may be involved:
- Wire fraud(18 U.S. Code Section 1343)
- Bank fraud(18 U.S. Code Section 1344)
- Identity theft(18 U.S. Code Section 1028)
- Fraud related to access devices (18 U.S. Code Section 1029)
- Computer fraud offenses(18 U.S. Code Section 1030)
- Money laundering(18 U.S. Code Section 1956)
Sturgess was allegedly running cards for “Mark and David Allen” according to Aldazabal, and has not made allegations against the Arrigonis like the others, however, the “Allens” appear to be the Arrigonis under a different name as Sturgess too received the credit card numbers from the Arrigoni’s “NetPay OneData” email address, as did the others.
Sturgess is also the only one of the 7 “accomplice/victims” who has since tried to quash my mentioning of her claims although she continues to prolifically make them all over social media.
When it comes to victims, there are many. From those who were allegedly manipulated into committing the actual fraud and running the cards, to the credit card holders , to the merchant services companies who ultimately are at the greatest financial loss in these types of crimes.
Most of the credit card victims appear to be over 50-years old. Many are in their 70’s and 80’s, while still others appear to be deceased. Some live outside of the United States. Those I contacted, denied ever authorizing the charges in question.
Manipulation and Money
All of the individuals who’ve said they were involved told similar stories with very few differences.
According to each of them, it starts out personal, with Aldazabal “coming to the rescue” in your time of need. Once she knows you have a need or weakness, they say she works that to her advantage. Capitalizing on your own crap, she baits you into caring about her, believing her, and ultimately trusting her. Anything she can do or say to get you on a personal and emotional playing field with her, she will, according to the accomplice/victims who say that once she has you, then comes the business offer.
Aldazabal denies any wrong-doing and claims the individuals running the cards are the ones committing a crime, if there is a crime. She says the business opportunities she helped these individuals into were genuine and legal “if done right”. She denies any responsibility for any of the chargebacks, nor any potential legal ramifications they may face.
Aldazabal says marketing is the only business she knows and that these are where her connections lie. She told me that when people she cares about come to her, she refers them to “help” get them on their feet, what they do with it, is basically their own problem.
Knowing the allegations are coming hard and fast, Aldazabal, also says she is fed up with all the “lies” about her, adding, “I’m tired of taking the blame for things that everyone else has done.” She also warned, “I don’t think people understand that I will not lie any longer for anyone. Even if it means hurting myself (sic)”.
According to those accusing her, you will be blown away by the amount of money she says you will make, and even more so at how quickly she promises you will begin making it. All of them say they asked her and/or the Arrigonis if everything was on the up and up. The answer they say they always received was, “yes, of course”. Most of these people were in financial dire straights when presented with Aldazabal’s offer. The idea of significant and quick relief was more than appealing to all of them. They say they didn’t know that the vision she presented each of them with was little more than a mirage in a desert.
Once you’ve taken her up on the offer, they say that Aldazabal and/or her partners will tell you that you need a corporation or LLC, explaining the pros and cons of each. These businesses are usually initially filed with the Florida Department of State and can be easily found at SunBiz.org. Most were registered by Aldazabal and/or her alleged former boss/partner, Thomas Arrigoni and his son Anthony Arrigoni.
Sometimes Abdazabal, her husband Armondo Aldazabal, or even her mother Debra Spears, are the ones listed as the registered agents on some of the corporations or LLCs. The addresses are often listed as one of three St. Augustine, Florida addresses from a Belles Chase Ct. cul-de-sac that Aldazabal uses often. Aldazabal and or her mother Spears, rent one of the three houses and says Tom Arrigoni was once also living at one of the three addresses. Aldazabal said she has known Arrigoni for “about a decade”.
Bank On It
All of those involved said they were told to set up a bank account. Aldazabal, and/or her partners, wanted access to those accounts in their entirety, not just the routing numbers.
In Florida, two B of A branches that have been shown as two branches used by victim/accomplices to transfer Aldazabal and/or her partner’s cut of the alleged stolen credit card money are:
- Palm Coast branch off Cypress and Palm Coast Parkway
- Augustine branch off U.S. 1
There are other banks involved as well, and in at least one instance, Arrigoni was said to have setup an overseas merchant services account and a bank account in the name of Manuel Vega, according to Vega, one of the victim/accomplices. All of those involved said that along with bank deposits, they were also directed to make Western Union and/or Walmart to Walmart wire transfers to Aldazabal and others.
Those accusing Aldazabal and/or the Arrigonis, say they were also directed to set up a merchant account so that they could process credit cards. Each believed they were starting “marketing” companies with the exception of Hemingway who said he thought Aldazabal and her cohort Nicholas Cannoe (aka Nick Canoe) were marketing his Florida salon and selling spa packages to vacationers for him to process.
For those who did not have a brick and mortar business, as did Hemingway, merchant account(s) with PayPal was the way to go. According to a Florida woman named Tracey Sturgess who goes by the moniker “Dyna DeRien”, Aldazabal had her set up a PayPal merchant account. She also said that Aldazabal used her own credit card to pay the filing fees to create her company. According to Aldazabal, what Tracey was working on had no ties to Arrigoni, but that she was running cards for “David and Mark Allen” instead.
Once their merchant accounts were ready to use, they were basically in business and began receiving “customer” names and credit card information in batches according to those who participated. They say they were told these “customers” were buying packages for their own businesses, vacation packages, Grand Celebration or Grand Lucayan Cruise Gift Cards, and/or credit and debt repair “education services”, among other things being “marketed” out of the Arrigoni’s and others’ call centers.
Cash Flow and Chargebacks
At first, everything seemed relatively easy and just as Aldazabal told each of them it would be. Money started flowing in, but almost as quickly they began receiving chargebacks from their merchant services companies. These chargebacks represent the cardholders and/or credit card companies declining what they believe to be fraudulent charges.
When this happened, those involved said they each contacted the Arrigonis and/or Aldazabal to find out what was wrong. No matter how upset they were, they were told that everything was fine, and were promised it would be handled and corrected as they were urged to keep running cards. according to them. Often Aldazabal and/or the Arrigonis would claim the problem was with the “descriptor” listed on the transactions, or some other “no big deal” excuse that at first sounded quite reasonable. At least until their accounts were inevitably shut down.
The more these people began to question Aldazabal and others, or when there was an ebb in money flow/transactions, Aldazabal would have a personal crisis claiming her utilities were going to be shut off, or that she needed gas or food, looking to borrow money from them, they said. Those who feel they were preyed upon said she used this ploy with them often, seemingly banking on the emotional tie she had created with them. Some say they went so far as to drive late at night or early in the morning to meet her at gas stations alongside the highway or run to their nearest Western Union or Walmart to wire her the money she told them she needed.
Most say they soon found out that Aldazabal’s concern and support of their business, seemed more about getting her money as fast as you could.
As the days and weeks passed, the chargebacks kept coming. These merchant accounts burn out fast, almost always getting flagged for fraud within a few days or weeks. Some involved say they were asked to apply for new accounts. Some got new accounts of their own accord allegedly before they realized they were involved in a crime. Without merchant accounts, the fraud cannot take place.
When I told Aldazabal these people felt they were lied to and manipulated by her and/or the Arrigonis, she said, “I don’t believe any of them were manipulated into doing something that they didn’t want to do”, saying it was “a legitimate business if it is handled correctly” and that the reason for all their problems with their merchant accounts was because “the ball was dropped when it came time to fulfill them”. Later she said it was “the merchant holders responsibility to contact the client prior to running any credit card to make sure the sale is final.”
When I asked Aldazabal who was responsible for fulfillment, she said it was the people with the merchant accounts. However, according to all of those I spoke with, they had no role in fulfillment and had not in fact ever seen any actual thing that they were charging people for. Kelley says, “Sturgess even had to ask Aldazabal for a flyer with an official logo proving a business for her merchant account rep, “Nancy”. Aldazabal didn’t have one, so she made one for her according to the screenshots Aldazabal herself sent me.
Those with the merchant accounts said they usually received the batches of “customers” from the Arrigonis and a woman they believed to be named “Emily Cannon”. The two main email addresses used to send the credit card info were:
- NetPay OneData
I asked her if the Arrigoni’s were scamming people and she said, “Honestly I do believe in my heart that they were. I got out over what happened to Manny.” She says she reported the Arrigonis in April 2015, “under oath” to Elizabeth Starr, the assistant to the Florida Attorney General, in her mandated annual report, stating to me that she told her “everything about the Arrigoni’s”. However, when I pressed her for more information about what exactly she reported, Aldazabal said, “I only told the AG the truth and that is that I do not sell or process payments. What happened to me in 2008 was devastating and ruined my life. If anyone thinks I’m to blame it surely isn’t while they are rolling in the dough. It’s not until they just (sic) something that makes them lose their accounts and or clients. “
Her claim of not having spoken with or worked with the Arrigonis for almost 2 years is false. Last summer while in calls and during Skype sessions with Hemingway, Aldazabal and her husband texted and called Hemingway many times on behalf of and with messages from, Tom Arrigoni. Not only did I see the messages as they happened during our conversations, but on at least two occassions I also heard them talk about it when they called Hemingway while he and I were on Skpye calls. The Aldazabals clearly discussed Hemingway getting a new merchant account as they continued explaining away the tens of thousands of chargebacks Hemingway had already received effectively shutting down his once active merchant account. These conversations also included talk about Hemingway’s friend Raigosa and her new business entity and merchant account surrounding a coming new call center. Tom Arrigoni also confirmed a test transaction on Raigosa’s new account.
During this time Aldazabal was becoming frustrated with Hemingway’s seeming inability to hurry up with anything, while also allegedly borrowing money from him for a trip to Oregon to supposedly testify in the Bundy Oregon Standoff trial. Hemingway was trying to keep her at bay as he was already in deep shit with his merchant who too was talking to me.
Tom and Tony Arrigoni
Thomas (Tom) Arrigoni (left), is a Florida resident and businessman. He is the alleged owner of at least one cruise line with his adult son Anthony (Tony) Arrigoni (right). Tony’s Facebook profile says he works for the Grand Lucayan Resort in the Bahamas and has a call center offering gift cards for reduced fee “Grand Lucayan Cruises”. Tom appears to be the “boss” of the alleged credit card crime ring with Tony as a partner, and purported enforcer of his father’s wishes. At least three of the accomplice/victims have expressed fear for their personal safety coming from the Arrigonis and even Aldazabal herself.
“NetPay OneData” is the main email address Tom used to communicate with the accomplice/victims.
The father and son own several other businesses in and out of Florida. Here are some of the Florida ones.
“Emily Cannon” is the fictitious name used by the person using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. It is registered to Aldazabal under “Jaime Spears”.
However, when Hemingway confronted Aldazabal about “Emily” last October, Aldazabal allegedly claimed that it is Tom Arrigoni who uses the “Emily” email account, not her. The account name originated with another Arrigoni business, the I LEARNING FOUNDATION, which in 2009 changed its name to AMERICARE PATIENT ASSISTANCE, INC. Thomas Arrigoni formally dissolved that corporation in August 2014 however, a year before he did, so, he changed the corporation’s address to one of the three St. Augustine, Florida, Belles Chase Ct addresses that they and Aldazabal use on the corporation and LLC filings. This is 3-months before Aldazabal’s company, IXE Accelerated Services Center, Inc., was busted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for a robocall scam. Andrew Cove was her attorney of note during that case (FTC v. JPM Accelerated Services Inc. el al., Matter No. XlO0009).
None of the accomplice/victims I spoke with had known that the “Emily” email was registered to Aldazabal herself. They all thought “Emily” was a real and separate person who worked closely with the Arrigonis.
Here are businesses that have been registered to Aldazabal, her husband Armondo Aldazabal, and her mother Debra Spears:
Nicholas Cannoe aka Nick Canoe
On February 15, 2015, Aldazabal, helped fellow Floridian Nick Cannoe create an LLC in the state of Florida. The business is MEDIA CFL GROUP LLC and Aldazabal’s spouse, Armando is the “Title AMBR” on the liability filing.
Aldazabal told Hemingway that Cannoe was allegedly doing marketing for Hemingway’s salon. Cannoe was just one of several people sending credit card info to Hemingway directly or to “Emily” to give to Hemingway to process.
Adiel Hemingway and Consuelo Raigosa
Last summer I was approached by Hemingway, who had become concerned that he, his 80-year old mother, and their close family friend may have been a part of one of Aldazabal’s financial scams. He said Aldazabal told him she could do marketing for his salon and that she and a man named Nick Cannoe would sell spa packages to vacationing visitors coming to Florida for cruises on the Arrigoni’s cruise line. The catch was Hemingway would have to process the actual sales through his salon himself. Thinking this was legit, he said he accepted her offer.
According to Hemingway, “customers” personal identities. including names, home addresses, social security numbers, along with their credit card numbers, were emailed and/or texted via cell phones to him to charge via his merchant account. Hemingway was to keep 50 percent of what he ran and provide the other 50 percent to Jaime, her husband, Cannoe, and/or the Arrigoni’s. He was told to create gift certificates that would be sent to the “customers” for their salon services. Hemingway was processing cards for the amounts of $300-$1400 each, based on the documentation available.
Hemingway said that before he realized he was a part of a scam, he had gotten a close family friend, Consuelo Raigosa, also involved. Aldazabal and/or the Arrigonis allegedly helped set up an LLC under Raigosa’s name, RAIGOSA ENTERPRISES, LLC..
His mother, whose name was on the salon, never met nor had any direct communications or dealings with the Aldazabals, the Arrigonis or anyone else involved in these crimes, per Hemingway. Raigosa however, did meet both Aldazabal and Cannoe at Hemingway’s home.
Although Aldazabal and Cannoe had allegedly sold more than $41K in spa packages ran through Hemingway’s merchant account at the salon, none of these “customers” ever redeemed or otherwise claimed any services according to Hemingway. He quickly began receiving a flood of chargebacks from his merchant services provider. At that point, he says he began searching for more information on Aldazabal until he came across an article I wrote about an old FTC case that involved her, so he contacted me.
After speaking together many times over many days, Hemingway finally provided an abundance of documentation, from bank deposits and wire transfers to private communications and more. He had hoped I would write another article about Aldazabal since I had already done so. I spent weeks vetting the veracity of what he had said and going over the information and documentation he’d provided. I contacted many experts, including legal experts in cybersecurity forensics and national security, as well as other people connected to Aldazabal and/or theses supposed crimes. I also spoke with merchant services companies to get a better understandong of how this all works.
Jack Froojian, the CEO of CoreTranz Business Services, the merchant company Hemingway had used, confirmed both the fraudulent charges by Hemingway, as well as the chargebacks.
Froojian and Hemingway have since worked out a repayment plan and Hemingway says his family has sold many things in order to get their debt with him paid off bit by bit, and still owes approximately $11K per Hemingway.
Blaine Cooper aka Stanley Hicks
I have not spoken to Blaine Cooper personally. To my knowledge, he has made no known claims against his friend Aldazabal and their corporation.
Aldazabal, helped Cooper, a former Arizona resident, to create a corporation called, THIRD WATCH PRODUCTIONS. It was registered with the Florida Department of State on February 3, 2015. “Jaime Spears”, i.e. Aldazabal, is the registered agent on the filing.
Cooper bragged that he’d started a new corporation and was making $30K a week in a text message between he and a friend of his who was using the fictitious name, “P. Kris Span” (see screenshot below – phone number and pic redacted per their request). In the conversation, Cooper stated it had been difficult for him to get a merchant account, adding he’d had to use a co-signer to do so.
He did not say who that co-signer was, nor do we know how many transactions he mad, if any, through his merchant account or what they may total. Aldazabal denies that Cooper was ever able to acquire a merchant account. But, if he had no merchant account, where was that $30k a week coming from?
Cooper is currently incarcerated in Nevada for his involvement in the April 2014 armed standoff involving Cliven Bundy and the Bundy family at the Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville. He was also charged in the January 2016 armed takeover of a national wildlife refuge near Burns, Oregon. These charges are unrelated to his business involvement with Aldazabal and he is currently entered in plea deals in both states awaiting sentencing.
Statement by Manuel (Manny) Vega
Vega and Aldazabal IMAGE SOURCE: Facebook
“A month after a protest I staged in front of the White House, I was looking for work. I needed income. I had quit my previous job as a delivery driver in the fall of 2014, to commit more to the Patriot “movement”. I had just come back from a few days in Nevada, invited by Jaime to visit Cliven Bundy. Now, back from there, I was out looking for a job. I had been in search for a job for a week.
One afternoon, Jaime called me to ask me how I was doing. I told her I was in the middle of looking for work and it was stressful. She told me to not worry about it. To go home and relax and that she can help me with a job in her line of work and one with a lucrative income. She told me it was marketing. I had no experience in the field but she told me that she would teach me. I was lured. The promise of a great income had me hooked and the ball went rolling.
She told me to come up with a business name. I did so the next day. Independence Solutions. She explained to me the pros and cons between a corporation and an LLC. She told me that I would be better off with a corporation. I had never been a business owner and this was so unbelievable to me. This was actually happening and I was excited. I still had no idea what I was going to be doing.
A few days later, she informed me that she opened a business with that name, in Florida through the Florida Department of State. Next, she told me it wasn’t going to work out that way and that I had to do it in Virginia and she gave me instructions of how to go about it and told me to apply for a business license in my county. I did.
She told me after everything was ready, this being the easy part, the most difficult phase was trying to acquire a merchant account. I was incorporated on February 15, 2015. I was finally introduced to Tom Arrigoni via the phone. Jaime had said that she knew and work for Tom for many years. Tom was also a Marine, I was led to believe, but there is no evidence I ever found if this.
They proceeded to get all my details to open a merchant account under my company name and I as president or director. Since I had not been a business that was mature but new, it was difficult to be approved for one. I was told to try and apply for merchant accounts myself, but I had no success.
Jaime and Tom explained to me that I would be marketing educational software. I was told that the software contained information on how to get out of debt, fix their credit etc. and that there were different levels of software prices. Silver, Gold or Platinum and platinum being most expensive. I was also told that this software was going to be mailed to clients who purchased it. I never saw the software. I didn’t know how to explain myself when applying for a merchant account. I still had no clue what I was doing. Months passed, perhaps two and I was growing desperate.
I had informed Trease of this business venture and she asked me questions that I could not even answer but I always said that I would talk to Tom and ask. I had not revealed Jaime’s involvement. She didn’t want anybody to know of her involvement since people in the past had betrayed her. I didn’t ask and I agreed. (Later in January of 2016, I had googled her name and found her court cases.) I was growing weary myself and asked Jaime if all of this was legal. She snapped back and questioned me why I had to ask that. I took it as it wasn’t.
I didn’t have a merchant account and no income. By this time, I wanted to meet Tom face to face. They told me that I would be going down to see him. That he would fly me down for a day. I myself wanted to see the legitimacy of all of this. I needed something to touch.
I was never flown down to meet him. I started speaking with Tom every day and those calls lasted no more than four or five minutes. Vague conversations and I hardly could understand his voice as it was deep and raspy.
Since I had no success with acquiring a merchant account, within the United States, Tom decided to acquire one overseas. Finally, at the start of summer, he had one for me. It was Gate2Shop based in Europe and in Israel and it banked with Barclays from what I believed.
Tom told me that he was going to process everything. I did nothing. I didn’t process a single card. I didn’t speak with a single client. All I had to do was to check my bank account every day and see if money was released into it. Then, I would have to wire those funds 90% to Tom’s account in Florida.
I had one payout. $14,000+. I wired that money to Tom successfully. I kept the 10%. This was the one and only payout that came through. Finally, I had income. It was short lived.
My business account at Wells Fargo was shut down immediately after. I told Tom and he told me to open another one with TD Bank. And to send him the account number and routing number to change the merchant account information. I still had no clue what was going on first hand. I became a middle man.
Still, I thought it was a hiccup along the road. I asked Jaime again if it was legal and she said this happened all the time and not to worry about it. By mid-summer, I was waiting for a payout and nothing. Next, I was told by Tom that the merchant account was shut due to chargebacks. I didn’t know then what chargebacks were. Luckily for me, now that I know, I’m glad no money was sent to my account after that lone payout. I would have paid Tom that money and I would have been left with that deep debt.
I didn’t speak with Tom for about two months after that. Jaime and I searched for avenues. I approached Melvin Lee and told him that perhaps we could work together. This is the first time that Melvin Lee and Jaime were introduced. Jaime explained to him what the situation was and the dealings of this business. I couldn’t have explained it better. I was being assured that this worked and it was normal. Patriotic Warriors Paypal account was then used to process cards. It didn’t go far. Decline after declined but it managed to accept about 10-15. Processed over $10,000. We were paid our cut. It was shut down. I felt very regretful for this.
In mid-September, Trease needed help financially. She asked me if I could contact Tom to see if she could work. Still, I believed that what they were doing was legitimate. I had no idea what was to befall us.
Jaime spoke with Tom at my behest and Tom and Treasa began to speak business. Everything was set. She was easily approved for two merchant accounts through her bank. The processing began at the end of September. A volume of cards were processed. We were told that the fulfillment department would handle the clients for the “service”. All we were to do was process the supposed client’s cards through the gateways and pay out Tom’s large cut on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when the previous day’s work was in the business account.
Twenty days later everything was shut down. Money was paid out to Tom and the chargebacks started coming in and calls from the bank and clients began. A nightmare ensued.
We wanted to make it right. We contacted Tom to inform him if the situation. He said he would work the chargebacks. I was desperate and I went and asked Jaime to help in the situation. She came over to the house and it “seemed” as she was working it.
We lost all communication with Tom soon after and by December 2015, Treasa’s business was in near ruin. They took the money and ran. I now angrily knew what had happened. This was a scam operation. It wasn’t legitimate and we were taken as fools. Jaime insisted that she couldn’t believe that Tom would do this and proceeded to tell us that she too lost contact with Tom.
Here we are a year later. Left to face this debt on our own and it is maddening. I feel guilty for bringing this mess upon Trease. I am more than angry with myself for dismissing the red flags. I was led by the prospect of a lucrative income and convinced that this was legitimate. In the end, of course, it wasn’t. Many people were victimized, and Trease is one of them.”
Vega says the charges totaled more than $220K before it stopped. Regarding his claim that he never ran any of the cards himself; that Tom Arrigoni had done so from Florida, is likely something cyber forensic experts will easily be able to prove one way or the other.
On October 23, 2016, Vega commented on an article I’d written and posted to my Facebook wall voicing his regrets for having gone into business with Aldazabal.
Vega and Cooper have been friends for some time. Vega said he spoke with Cooper from jail on January 16, 2017, and shared with him everything he’d learned about Aldazabal, trying to warn him off her.
Vega says Cooper has more information to offer and that he wants to help in any investigation into Aldazabal. This has not been independently verified.
Statement by Trease Kelley
“Towards the end of September 2015, I spoke with Manny regarding the third party billing processing he was involved in. I was quickly approved for two merchant accounts and was contacted by Tom Arrigoni.
After speaking with Tom and getting the information on the business I would be assisting with, I began processing. The process as explained to me by Tom and later on, by Jaime, was a call center initiates a call and when they got an interested response, the call center immediately transfers the interested party to the sales department. The sales department then sells the services of credit repair or credit card interest rate reduction. The client must agree to pay for the services up front. Once the client gives their payment information, that information is then forwarded to payment processing. Processing the payment was the only portion of the services that required my involvement.
Once the fees were charged by credit card and approved, the call center would contact the client and schedule their fulfillment appointment. The first few days were slow averaging $5k or so. By the end of the first week, Tom had a goal of $15K-20K for me to process through my account. I did this for approximately twenty days before my accounts were frozen and placed on hold due to chargeback requests the merchant began receiving.
I reached out to Tom with my concerns and he assured me they would be taken care of and all charges were legitimate and only needed to go through fulfillment. I had no reason to doubt his reassurance.
I placed a call to the card holders prior to charging their credit cards. I only charged clients that I received verbal approval to do so. According to Tom and Jaime, the client is required to pay prior to fulfillment due to past clients not approving the charges once the services are rendered.
Telephone calls between Tom and I occurred daily for several weeks. Around the end of November, Tom was no longer taking calls or responding to text and emails regarding the clients I had ran through my account. During this time I had no idea Jaime was involved in this business. My business accounts along with personal accounts were frozen and eventually closed due to negative balances. Manny suggested we speak with Jaime for assistance in dealing with the situation.
Jaime jumped on board immediately! She drove to Virginia on two separate occasions to work the chargebacks. I would hear Jaime on the phone speaking with the clients. She made call after call after call. There were times when the client would be available and she would do the fulfillment. There were only a few of these. Most calls were answered by voice mail. Jaime would identify herself as “Jaime Spears”, state the reason for the call and request a return call.
When Jaime left Virginia she continued to assure me she was working the chargebacks. I would scan and email her chargeback batches as I received via mail. She claimed to have reversed 80% of the chargebacks and the clients were now indeed satisfied with the service rendered. My accounts were placed in a permanent holding position for 6 months. In mid-April, I found out the chargebacks were never properly worked and all monies I processed had been returned to the card holders.
Tom never returned or reimbursed any of the monies I had paid out to him. I was paying him out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I would get a cashiers check from my bank and deposit the funds directly into his BOA business account. The account in the name of Universal Marketing Management based out of Nevada.
Mid-January 2016 was when I found out about Jaimes involvement and learned she had been the one behind my introduction to Tom. Jaime admitted this and went on to explain to me that she was the very person who wrote the script. This business was her “baby” invented some 10 years prior. She went as far as scouting locations with me for a call center she wanted to open in Virginia with me as a business partner. I declined based on the findings once my account reached the 6-months of inactivity.
My balance with the merchant is over $89 thousand dollars. In total, I have a loss of $178k. The loss includes bank fees, card service fees, cash payouts, and personal accounts drained.”
Kelley says she consulted her attorney on the matter several months ago. She also followed up with the authorities.
In the late winter/early spring of 2015, Melvin Lee, the co-founder of Patriotic Warriors (PW), allowed Vega and Aldazabal use of his PW PayPal account to process some credit cards for what he thought was a legitimate new business. PayPal however, quickly flagged Lee’s account, notifying Lee of unauthorized transactions. Lee himself says he was innocent and ignorant of whatever Vega and Aldazabal had done. He repaid the $5800 in chargebacks and fees and ceased allowing them to use it.
Statement by Traci Hurrle
“Jaime used to be my best friend. I, 2-3 years ago, was with the Liberty Belles of America, but that company was defrauded profoundly by Jaime and Tom Arrigoni.
Tracey Sturgess aka Dyna DeRien
After Sturgess made multiple Facebook posts about being involved with Aldazabal and having $39K in chargebacks, (screen shot below), we spoke online.
Sturgess says she became financially involved with Aldazabal on November 8, 2016, setting up a merchant account via PayPal per Aldazabal’s direction, but by November 30th her merchant account was shut down. She said that on December 12, 2016, Aldazabal still filed a Florida corporation for Sturgess, SECURE DATA MARKETING SERVICES, INC., allegedly using her own credit card to pay the filing fee.
Unlike some others, Sturgess claims she dealt solely with Aldazabal. She said Aldazabal had her set up a Bank of America account at the branch off US 1 in St. Augustine, Florida. Aldazabal would also have her wire money to her, her husband Armando and militia member John Hildinger. Sturgess says she has receipts to prove these credit card transactions, bank deposits, and wire transfers. She said she believes the total amount she had ran through her merchant account, was around $40K.
Aldazable says Sturgess wanted to get a new merchant account to continue running cards, including rerunning those the chargebacks came from.The screenshots Aldazabal sent me to prove that, however, show a woman worried about going to jail, but trying to believe her friend that she hasn’t gotten her involved in anything legal.
After speaking with me, Sturgess flipped out and began threatening me via both voice and text messages promising me a trip to “Gitmo” and more amid unintelligible rantings. I formally requested she stop contacting me or face harassment charges.
A Nod to John Hildinger
On January 16, 2017, militia member and Aldazabal supporter, John Hildinger, broadcasted live on Facebook threatening Sturgess for speaking out against Aldazabal and suggesting the militia go after her (post archived HERE; video archived HERE).
Aldazabal recently helped Hildinger start a corporation, FREEDOM MARKETING, INC.. Hildinger’s new gig, was filed on December 1, 2016, retroactive to November 26, 2016. The corporation address is listed as one of the three St. Augustine, Florida, Belles Chase Ct. addresses used by Aldazabal and the Arrigonis. Hildinger is the registered agent of the corporation and is currently staying in St. Augustine with Aldazabal. Previously, he was in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Aldazabal says Hildinger has an Amazon account and that she is helping him create “go bags” to sell through the site. Whether or not Hildinger is in actuality running cards like the others Aldazabal has recruited, is unknown. There are no accusations against Hildinger being made in this article, however, because of Aldazabal’s track record of “helping” friends in need create corporations and LLCs that result in financial ruin and allegations of fraud by so many, FREEDOM MARKETING, INC. is worth noting for the record.
On January 28, of last year Hildinger was quoted by RawStory in an article about the Bundy’s armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. At the time, speaking out against Aldazabal’s close friend Blaine Cooper, Hildinger said, “F*ck you. Hear me, Blaine — you’re a paid informant. You have no visible means of employment. You support a family, a house and you travel the country.”
Hildinger may now be walking in Cooper’s potentially fraudulent footsteps.
There may be others. Aldazabal’s former dealings with Sheryl Tumey and confirmed FBI confidential human source (CHS), Terri Linnell, are questionable. Tumey strongly alluded to me to knowing more about Aldazabal than she would discuss.
Both women have publicly complained about their organization with Aldazabal splitting due to fraudulent financial activity on Aldazabal’s part. Linnell grew suspicious of Aldazabal’s handling of the organization’s funds which resulted in one group splitting, and another folding.
I would imagine, Hurrle would be able to fill in a lot of those blanks.
From the beginning, it was apparent to me that if any of these allegations were true, having the authorities involved looking into it was far more important than writing a story. I explained this to Hemingway since he was the first accomplice/victim to have approached me. I told him I had a moral and ethical obligation to turn the information over. He wanted that too, however, he was genuinely fearful for his family’s safety and wanted to get the local authorities involved first.
Because of this, I went ahead and made contact with Sargent Nathan Flach (now retired), with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Investigative Division. On August 16, 2016, Flach took receipt of the information and documentation related to Aldazabal. He agreed this was a federal situation if Hemingway’s allegations were true and said that he would reach out to his liaison with the FBI to facilitate things.
True to his word, Flach contacted Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Special Agent Mark Brutnell, who Flach said is a liaison to the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) associated with the FBI. According to Flach, Brutnell took possession of the materials on Aldazabal the following day on August 17, 2016.
Then on August 26, 2016, Flach said that he’d spoken again with FDLE Agent Brutnell who he said determined the case is better handled directly by the “FBI JTTF unit”. He said Brutnell met with an FBI agent and turned over all of the materials on Aldazabal for review. He cautioned that “The FBI moves like a tortoise, not a rabbit.”
Many of the accomplice/victims have previously kept quiet because they’d feared charges or other repercussions. Those whom I have spoken with have all been directed to the proper authorities. Maybe Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), should look into the matter as well?
By conservative estimate, accounts belonging to Hemingway, Vega, Kelley, Lee, and Sturgess alone, collectively transacted more than $500K between January 2015 and December 2016. The bulk of these potentially illegal transactions were processed over a matter of weeks, not months or years.
Were these accomplice/victims innocent as they say? Are the Arrigonis? Is Aldazabal? How much money in total may have ultimately been scammed from credit card customers may never be known, and whether there are others who keep silent, remains to be seen.
If you have been involved with Aldazabal, or one of her associates, and believe you may have participated in or are currently participating in illegal/fraudulent activities, contact the FBI office in your jurisdiction and file a report referencing Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Special Agent Mark Brutnell.
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