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US: Private eye swindles millions from Boca Raton woman, prosecutors say

By Mario Ariza – South Florida Sun Sentinel

Dec 08, 2020

He used his skills as a private investigator to con an elderly Boca Raton brain cancer victim out of almost $2.9 million dollars, and spent the money on a luxury lifestyle for his family, living off the cash as his main source of income, prosecutors say.

On Friday, his lawyer said he was practically broke and asked a judge to let him go.

The judge said no.

Jeffrey Spivack, 57, a Miami-based sleuth for hire and U.S. Air Force veteran, was arrested this July on federal wire fraud and extortion charges after he allegedly took advantage of an elderly former client.

Prosecutors say Spivack used digital voice-alteration technology to impersonate a fake female federal agent named “Donna.”

In the guise of Donna, he convinced his elderly victim to wire him millions of dollars over the course of five years by spinning an elaborate fiction: The elderly woman would receive a $200 million payout as a reward from a federal whistleblower lawsuit, but only if she helped finance the investigation first.

But when the victim’s daughter discovered that millions were missing from her mother’s account this June, she started taping the conversations between her mother and Spivack, court records show. And she got the FBI involved.

A transcript of a July 24 recorded conversation, reproduced in court records, shows Spivack telling the elderly woman that his “boss” wanted to “send a team to silence you and your family,” and that the boss would make it look “like COVID.”

The only way to stop the hit, Spivack told the elderly woman, was to immediately wire him $350,000.

“Your life and your freedom are at risk,” Spivack said.

But instead of a wire transfer, Spivack got a visit from the FBI, who arrested him and searched his home and records. Investigators traced the source of the phone calls back to his address via bank records.

On Aug. 10, a federal magistrate judge in West Palm Beach ruled that he should be held without bond pending trial, because his ability to create fictitious personas made him a flight risk, and his threats to the victim made him a danger to the community, according to court records.

On Friday, Spivack’s attorney, Valentin Rodriguez, tried to convince Federal Magistrate Judge William Matthewman to change his mind and let his client go, pending trial.

Rodriguez’s argument?

Spivack was broke, and was unlikely to vanish from the law.

“I believe the evidence will show that 95%, or maybe 100% of those funds have been accounted for, they’ve been spent,” Rodriguez said. “The defendant has nothing to his name but a car, equity in a house, and equity in another car.”

The hearing offered insight into how Spivack spent the allegedly stolen funds on his family, instead of on himself.

“The defendant was maintaining a luxury lifestyle for himself,” Assistant United States Attorney Aurora Fagan said “and for his wife, his four stepchildren, his mother-in-law in Spain and his brother.”

Fagan laid out how Spivack paid one stepchild’s rent, and another’s medical bills, and invested in another’s auto-detailing business.

She told the judge about how Spivack wired his brother money, and sent funds regularly to his mother-in-law in Spain. The funds from his elderly victim also allegedly went toward family vacations, and $1,900 restaurant bills, Fagan said.

“This is really an unusual case,” Matthewma, the judge, said as he considered whether to release Spivack, who has no prior criminal record.

Ultimately, the judge decided to keep the gumshoe locked up pending trial. The judge cited the threats the detective had made, and the fact that Spivack had looked up his elderly victim’s daughter in a series of databases once he’d realized she was trying to intervene.

If convicted, Spivack faces a maximum penalty of 20 years for wire fraud and 20 years for extortion.

Spivack’s attorney declined to comment.

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