VP in tech support scam that targeted St. Clair, Madison residents sentenced

Chronicle Media

: Grant Clark Wasik, 36, of Oakland Park, Fla was the vice president and sales manager of CCE, formerly known as First Choice Tech Support, which was based in Boynton Beach, Fla. (Courtesy of FBI)

The former vice president and sales manager of a fraudulent tech support business, which targeted St. Clair and Madison county residents as well as people throughout the country, has been sentenced to prison.

Grant Clark Wasik, 36, of Oakland Park, Fla. was sentenced Thursday (Oct. 10) in federal court in East St. Louis to 10 ½ years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The court also ordered Wasik to pay more than $10.5 million in restitution to the victims of the fraud scheme.

Wasik was the vice president and sales manager of CCE, formerly known as First Choice Tech Support,
which was based in Boynton Beach, Fla. The company also operated a similar tech support business called ABC Repair Tech, located in Costa Rica.

According to court documents, Wasik and other defendants purchased pop-up advertisements that would appear suddenly on a person’s computer screen.

The pop-ups were made to look like system warnings and falsely informed the victims that serious problems, such as viruses or malware, had been detected on their computers.

Often, the pop-ups caused the person’s Internet browser to freeze up and stop responding. The pop-ups also typically warned the victims not to shut down their computers or else they would lose all their data. Instead, the ads directed them to call a toll-free number, where they were connected to sales representatives who continued the fraud.

The sales representatives would convince the victims to grant them remote access to their computers, where normal computer functions and routine processes were highlighted as evidence of serious computer problems.

Victims were never told that the pop-ups that had hijacked their computers were just advertisements purchased by the tech support company or that in most instances they could make the pop-ups go away simply by rebooting their computers.

Instead, they were sold remote “tune-ups” for $250 and anti-virus protection software for another $400. If victims balked at the steep prices, the sales representatives would offer them a discount for being a senior citizen, military veteran or something else.

At least 57 victims of the scam were residents of the Southern District of Illinois, representing 22 of the district’s 38 counties, including St. Clair and Madison.

From 2013-16, the two companies — CCE and ABC — combined to defraud more than 40,000 people.
Victims were located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, several
U.S. territories, all 10 Canadian provinces, the United Kingdom, and several other foreign countries. All told, the two companies took in more than $25 million.

Wasik pleaded guilty to one count of a 14-count superseding indictment earlier this year. Two former owners of CCE, Michael Austin Seward, 32, of Deerfield Beach, Fla. and Kevin James McCormick,
46, of Delray Beach, Fla., also pleaded guilty to their role in the conspiracy and are set to be sentenced Nov. 18. Magistrate Joe Billy McDade from the Central District of Illinois, who presided over Wasik’s case, will also conduct the sentencing of Seward and McCormick.

The former CEO of ABC, Michael Cary Lawing, was due to be sentenced Tuesday (Oct. 15) before Nancy Rosenstengel, chief U.S. District judge for the Southern District of Illinois. Results of that sentencing hearing were unavailable as of press time.

Lawing, 34, of Lincolnton, N,C., pleaded guilty to a felony fraud violation late last year.

Since April 2017, 14 other employees of CCE and ABC have also pleaded guilty to federal fraud violations in the Southern District of Illinois and 10 of them have been sentenced:

  • Joseph Aievoli IV, 26, of Boynton Beach, Fla., a salesperson at CCE.
  • Cory Bachman, 26, of Boynton Beach, a salesperson at CCE, 1 day and restitution of $156,806.
  • Andrew Broad, 27, of Boynton Beach, director of training at CCE, 12 months plus 1 day and restitution of $55,238.
  • Ryan Carr, 24,m of Mount Laurel, N.J., team leader at CCE, 12 months plus 1 day and restitution of $20,384.
  • Joshua Cortez, 38, of Lake Worth, Fla., director of training at CCE, 18 months and restitution of $3,034.
  • Erica Crowell, 30, of Maple Shade, N.J., salesperson at CCE.
  • Nicholas Davidson, 27, of Boynton Beach, salesperson at CCE, 5 years’ probation and restitution of $181,808.
  • Patrick Dougherty, 36, of Boynton Beach, salesperson at CCE, 12 months plus 1 day and restitution of $240,966.
  • Tatum Espenshade, 27, of West Palm Beach, Fla., salesperson at CCE, 1 day plus 18 months’ home detention and restitution of $132,683.
  • Eric Iannaccone, 33, of Monroe Township, N.J., sales manager at CCE.
  • Anthony Ludena, 30, of Boca Raton, Fla., salesperson at CCE, 12 months plus 1 day and restitution of $176,692.
  • Timothy Miller II, 28, of Schwenksville, Penn., salesperson at CCE, 5 years’ probation plus 200 hours community service and restitution of $127,042.
  • Jonathan Richardson, 28, of Lake Worth, salesperson at CCE, 12 months plus 1 day and restitution of $78,638.
  • Kyle Swinson, 27, of Boynton Beach, team leader at ABC/CCE


Because the crimes allegedly took place in connection with telemarketing and victimized 10 or more
people over the age of 55, the maximum punishment in each case is 30 years’ imprisonment.

The defendants could also be ordered to serve up to five years of supervised release and pay a fine of up to $250,000. Under federal law, restitution to identified victims is mandatory.

The cases are part of an ongoing investigation by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office raided CCE in June 2016 and has been cooperating with the federal investigation, in addition to bringing its own civil enforcement action against CCE under Florida state law.

The Federal Trade Commission continues to work to shut down illegal tech support scams. For information about the FTC’s “2019 Tech Support Takedown,” visit

Some consumers who were victimized by ABC or CCE / First Choice Tech Support have received additional fraudulent calls. The calls typically come from companies claiming either
(a) that the technical support the victims purchased has been transferred to them and additional funds are now needed; or (b) that they can help the victims obtain a refund.

Victims should be
advised that no companies have been authorized to provide them with any tech support services on behalf of ABC or CCE / First Choice Tech Support, or to provide them with a refund for any
previous purchases.