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Owner of 'Magic Factory' in Medford Charged with Stealing 500k from Customer

Harry P. Levy is charged with credit card fraud and issuing false statements.

Most recent: Hearing Scheduled in 'Magic Factory' Fraud Case

The owner of a magic store in Medford is charged with credit card fraud and making false statements to authorties after he tried to pull off a $500,000 trick on one of his customers, according to court filings.

Harry P. Levy, the owner of Hank Lee's Magic Factory, admitted he made 134 false transactions between 2009 to 2011 on a customer's American Express card totaling $561,927, according to a stipulation of facts signed by Levy and prosecutors. The document was filed in Federal Court in Boston Friday.

The store's website was still operational as of Friday evening.

Levy, a Lexington resident, regularly lied to investigators as they looked into the credit card charges last year, the filing said. He also claimed other people were defrauding the victim, the filing said.

The victim was a Texas man who ordered regularly online from the Magic Factory, typically using his PayPal account, according to a U.S. Attorney press release. But in 2009, he made a transaction with his American Express card by entering his account information in the store's website, according to prosecutors.

One of the victim's assistants spotted the unauthorized charges while reviewing his finances in May 2011, according to court documents. The victim checked his account with the Magic Factory, but only his legitimate purchases appeared, court documents said.

Levy told the victim the unauthorized charges paid for foreign orders and showed him invoices with Vietnam shipping addresses, according to the filing. But those invoices were false.

"In fact, the charges had been made by (Levy) personally," the filing said. "They had not been made in response to foreign orders."

Even the items the victim legitimately ordered with his credit card were never received, according to the filing.

When federal investigators sat down with Levy in September 2011, he blamed the fraud on other people defrauding the victim, and the victim himself, according to the filing.

"(He) didn't look at his American Express bill for more than two years," Levy told investigators. "People were using his cards."

He also claimed he shipped orders submitted by the victim all over the world, prosecutors said. Levy told investigators he continued to take the orders, but eventually stopped shipping them because he "thought something was up," according to the court filing.

Levy was ordered to provide investigators with files related to the charges, but he gave them logs that were "not comprehendable by a human," the filing said, and did not provide any specific information.

Levy also told falsely told investigators he wrote to the victim to tell him someone was using his credit card, prosecutors allege.

After several more interviews and a visit to his store, investigators obtained a search warrant for the Magic Factory and found files that showed Levy falsified invoices, the filing said.

Levy has agreed to plead guilty to credit card fraud and making false statements, and in exchange prosecutors won't charge him with wire fraud or aggravated identity theft, according to a plea agreement. Levy faces a total of up to 20 years in prison on the charges.

Prosecutors will seek a sentence at the "low end of sentencing guidelines," and to have Levy ordered to pay resititution to the victim, according to the plea agreement.

No further court dates for Levy have been set, according to a federal court online docket.

UPDATE: Read the court filings in this case for yourself,

Ron Cartlidge March 31, 2012 at 05:19 AM
What a jerk! Wonder who the guy in Texas was?
Bill Lucas March 31, 2012 at 12:15 PM
This is so hard to believe. I first dealt with Hank back in the '70s when I ordered from him while I was stationed in Germany. He always gave me terrific quick service and now to read this.... why?
Jason March 31, 2012 at 03:03 PM
He is one of the reasons I opened my online magic store NexusMagic. I was buying from him, and receiving my orders half the time. You can only claim lost in the mail, you didn't buy insurance so many times... There are Gentleman of Magic, and then there are tricksters!
Joe Givan March 31, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Owwwwwwch! I guess Carol and I won't be performing at his convention after all!
Vince DeAngelis March 31, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Everyone has always known Hank was unpleasant to deal with but wow! Hard to believe the business has so many honest and kind and helpful people in it; and then there are real bad guys like this as well. Everyone should take there business to reputable shops like Diamonds Magic in Peabody. I have bought 95% of my effects from Eddie and now it will be 100% Never an issue. Never a problem. Nothing but terrific, helpful, pleasant service from a true gentleman!
cubby March 31, 2012 at 06:45 PM
I am sorry to hear of this. My father and most of our mutual friends order from him all the time. Every year they looked forward to the convention. I know this saddens them deeply. Its sad that no matter what, you never really know anyone
henry mudie March 31, 2012 at 10:08 PM
i dont know hank personaly but i ordered an item that ended up being out of stock he asked that i wait a couple of weeks to see if they came back in they didn't and he refunded my money with no hassle at all so not all bad
Vince DeAngelis March 31, 2012 at 10:38 PM
He admitted to stealing over a half a million dollars from a customer and then lying to authorities about it... "not all bad"????
Alan Tauber March 31, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Just mean. We don't know the whole story. I've know Hank a long time. This is just not like him.
Alan Tauber March 31, 2012 at 11:11 PM
I used to work for Mr Levy. He was very honest in the 7 years I worked for him. He was a very hard worker and always had the policy of making people happy. He was an honest man. I do not know what happened.
Vince DeAngelis March 31, 2012 at 11:43 PM
I have done business with him for over 20 years and have consistently heard and seen some questionable things. It has never been trouble free or pleasant so I have bought less and less. This is all I need to know about him.
Vince DeAngelis April 01, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Well you were indeed lucky then.
David W. April 01, 2012 at 02:29 AM
I have purchased a few items from Hanks, and never had a problem... always delivered to my door in a day or two. I met him at the convention (SAM) in Boston and he seemed like s nice guy. Having worked for the Federal Government for 35 years, you see all kinds. This truly was a surprise.
AmazingGordo April 01, 2012 at 03:48 AM
I've bought many items from Hank Lee many times over an 8 year period, and never had a problem. The store had great selection, great service and quality merchandise. I don't understand how this could have happened!
Pedro Morillo April 01, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Hello guys, I'm from Spain and the last December 2011 I had this kind of problem buying in Hank Lee. I've paid with my visa in his site and the day after "someone" tried to buy with my visa card from a bet site charging me 250€. But this couldn't be possible because casually the count associated with my visa didn't have enought money in this moment. The bank cancelled this visa inmediatly and gave me a new one. I e-mailed Hank Lee and this is what he answered me: I am not sure about those odd charges. It is nothing that we did here. I wonder if it is possible that your credit card has been compromised. Have you used it online with an unsecure site? Ours is 100% secure. In any case, we have not charged you any incorrect charges. I think this kind of things he did only to foreign customers. I have all the emails and dates archived and my bank can do the same. So if the police wants can contact me. My order number in the Hank Lee shop was #67432
Theodore Resner April 01, 2012 at 09:22 PM
I ordered from the magic factory 3 times; the second 2 because of a problem with the first order: I ordered a book I couldn't find anywhere else. After 2 weeks I called, they said it was out of stock but would be in any day now. After another 2 weeks (30 days) I called to cancel my order as I found it and bought the book at my local magic shop Midwest Magic. Lee's said it had just been mailed out. I called when they opened; when I got the tracking no. next day it showed it didn't get to the post office 'till after 5 pm. I called and demanded they accept my returning it. I mentioned it was after 30 days they knew I knew by law after 30 days they must. I told them I would accept credit. The credit was quickly applied to my account. I ordered another book and 4 booklets. I got them in a few days. At this point I was ready to forgive them "shit happens". I still had a few dollars credit and I wanted to use it up soon. I ordered an item on a Friday. They said it would go out Monday. The next Friday still hadn't come. I called them they said it would go out Monday. I finally got it the next week. I get most of my stuff in person from Midwest Magic they have a good website, the store is huge just magic few gags no costumes, masks, or adult back room. I have seen with my own eyes that they have almost everything in stock.
Tommy Shitake April 02, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Did you count your fingers after you shook hands with him ?
Tommy Shitake April 02, 2012 at 12:20 AM
I have first hand knowledge about how he consistently tried to short change the young kids he had working for him. It was always a battle trying to get paid for hours worked. The guy is a shyster No sympathy here. The man is a disgrace.
Greg Britt April 02, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Greg Britt - New Zealand I orderd a $700 item and said in order only charge Visa card if in stock and ready to ship, Card charged immeadiatly but not delivered. On emailing I was told they couldnt get one and would credit my visa. Over many months I recieved a number of emails from Hank saying the visa credit was put thru. I contacted the Visa authoritys who said a credit had never been actioned and reversed the charge saying only a couple of days before the time lapsed meant they could'nt have helped. I emailed and faxed Hank asking for an explanation with no reply. I thought then this guy has to be caught out at some stage. He did'nt care two hoots about me the customer, I did tell many magicians worldwide of my dealings and was supprised how many others had bad dealings with Hank Lee. Many stories were worse than mine. He should get out of the bussiness and sell to a person who has integrity, souds like he could end up in Jail. And now every ones story will come out!
Peter parker April 06, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Excuse me? We don't know the whole story and he's an honest guy according to one posting??? Wow, even when someone is caught red-handed. You have persons still vouching for them like they are the victim. And everyone is picking on them. The only statement is can contribute is that he had to have worked very, very hard to steal over $500,000 dollars!!
Vince DeAngelis April 06, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Amen, brother.
Philip Peh April 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I ordered more than US$4,000 worth of props. Only half came. Not only that, charged me extra US$2,000 dollars of shipping charges which he said was a mistake. Did not get back my refund and half of my order was not arrived. Ordered last year August. I am sad and angry...
Kenneth A Sopelak April 11, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Before I knew what had happened to Hank Lee, I placed a small order. It will be interesting to see how well my order is processed.
david prather May 17, 2012 at 02:48 AM
same thing happened to me years ago. l sent about $l,500 worth of money orders to this crook lee for magic items. seems he was "suspicious" of them. it took over a year haggling with this bum trying to get my items. even then, l only got half of my order. lee finally is getting some jail time....sooner the better.
Ex Magician June 15, 2012 at 09:37 AM
I do so hope Hank Levy goes to jail and rots for a spell. He's an arrogant criminal who finally got caught and now his little friends are trying to portray him as a sweet kind and old frumpy man, and that ex-customers/victims should feel sorry for "Mr. Levy." (cough) Sorry. No can do. Go work your patter somewhere else, "elves." I've noticed this irritating problem on many magician boards.... people defending "Mr. Levy" even though he's admitted to the crime. People are idiots. "Magicians" are not special and are as gullible as anyone else. They don't want to admit they are bad judges of character and would rather "keep believing in the magic!" Their allegiance makes me vomit. Hank's true nature coming to public light, however, is something in which I rejoice. "But Hank is SO sorry!" Sorry he got caught. My biggest fear is that some stupid judge will feel sorry for the criminal, even whilst "Mr. Levy" brandishes Technicolor sponge balls. I will be happy if he gets even three years in the pen. I will write to him daily.
Alan Tauber June 15, 2012 at 06:30 PM
You're putting words in many mouths. Personally, I said that my thought was it was not like Hank to do this. Then, I said that the whole truth had not come out and it hasn't. He has admitted to breaking the law, yes. My experience of Hank Lee was that he was an honest, hard working, straight to your face guy. And I know he was because I was pretty close to him. He could be a jerk and push too much, yes. A lot of people do. But he was also kind and caring. He loved magic and developed a good business, I felt. He went the extra mile to bring more good magic to Boston when others were not. There were the lectures of some of the best names in the business. Always trying to get the best magic in the store. He said once that a LOT of bad magic props would come in the store and that there was no reason to sell bad magic. There was plenty of good magic available. He broke the law and will pay for that. What more can we do? I personally feel that he should not be involved in the business in any way at this point since he is continuing his business. Sell it or give it to the son or family person and stop writing the Extra copy. To continue that does't give you business. No one wants to buy from a thief.
Bill Meeker September 07, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Up to 20the yrs ago I often bought from Hank Lees in person and by mail. After moving to Phoenix bought occasionally by mail intil a few years ago. Stopped after I bought an item that was not as advertised. A McCombical deck item supposed to include the original routine, patter, script, etc...but no such thing. Just a deck and small insert of generic instructions! I did enjoy the Cape Cod Conclave in the early 90's, but noticed Hank's personality seemed to become grumpier and more and more "cranky" over the last few years of contact at various conventions, etc.
Ray December 03, 2012 at 08:14 PM
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Lee Earle January 25, 2013 at 04:35 PM
As a supplier of items for the trade, I discovered 'Hank Lee' NEVER paid an invoice on time, often 60 days late. Plus his 'elves' often, um, miscounted arriving merchandise and quite often the cost of the 'missing' items was deducted from the final payment if/when if finally arrived. A customer of his wrote to me praising one of my DVDs he'd just purchased from the Magic Factory - even though I'd not shipped merchandise to him in over 7 years! Long & short of it - he is a liar and a thief. Period. What goes around, comes around. Karma is a bitch, Hank. No pity here.
Turner March 25, 2013 at 07:27 PM
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