News and Press Releases

Three Arrested on Long Island in Million Dollar Phony Rare Coin Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20 , 2005

Defendants Target the Elderly and Cost One Victim His Life Savings

ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and ROBIN DALGLEISH, Postal Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service (New York), today announced the arrest of THERESA D'AMICO, STEVEN FASANO and THOMAS FASANO, on mail fraud charges arising out of their fraudulent nationwide investment scheme involving supposedly valuable coins.1

The defendants' initial appearances are scheduled to be held later today before United States Magistrate Judge William D. Wall at the U.S. Courthouse in Central Islip, New York.

According to the complaint unsealed today, between January 1999 and the present, the defendants ran a high pressure telephone sales operation, or "boiler room," which operated under a variety of names -- including World Wide Galleries, World Wide Collectibles, Classic Collectibles, Classic Collectibles II, American Authentics, and New World Coin and Rarities -- at several locations in Patchogue, Ronkonkoma and Lake Ronkonkoma, New York. Sales representatives of the companies made calls designed to induce buyers to purchase essentially worthless coins based on representations that the coins were valuable and had great investment potential. To persuade the victims to purchase the coins, the sales representatives fraudulently advised the victims that the coins could be resold at substantially greater prices at coin conferences in Europe and elsewhere, that the companies would help facilitate the resales, and falsely guaranteed that the companies would repurchase the coins at a 20 per cent increase over the purchase price after one year.

Once a victim paid for the initial coin purchase -- typically for several hundred dollars -- a sales representative sent the victim several coins, worth only a small fraction of the purchase price. Within several months thereafter, a representative would again call the victim, falsely claiming that a buyer had been found for the coins, provided the victim purchased additional coins to complete the package. The new coins that the victim was told to purchase were priced significantly higher than the initial purchase price -- typically thousands of dollars. As a further inducement, in most cases the victim was advised that a bid had already been received for the purchase of the victim's coins, at a substantial profit to the victim. Relying on these new, false representations, most victims made a second purchase.

Finally, the complaint charges that shortly after the second purchase, a salesperson would call the victim and falsely represent that the initial bid had fallen through -- offering fictitious excuses such as the events following the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center, or hurricanes in the Caribbean, made international monetary transactions impossible -- while reassuring the victim that the company had received another, higher bid, provided the victim purchase additional coins to complete a yet larger collection. According to the complaint, many victims made a third purchase, at prices ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars.

As a result of the defendants' fraud scheme, the complaint alleges that 14 victims lost more than $1 million, including one who spent $150,000 -- his life savings -- for coins worth no more than $1,800.

Earlier today, federal agents executed search warrants at the defendants' most recent base of operations at 20 Medford Avenue, Patchogue, New York, as well as at two post office boxes they maintained in Patchogue, and seized numerous records relating to the alleged scheme, including "pitch sheets" containing fraudulent scripts to be read to victims during sales calls. Based upon these records and other information gathered during the investigation, investigators have determined that the defendants have defrauded hundreds of victims across the country.

"These defendants preyed on elderly victims and drained them of their personal savings in order to line their own pockets," stated United States Attorney MAUSKOPF. "This prosecution should send the strong and clear message both to investors and potential fraudsters. Buyers beware -- if a deal seems to good to be true, it probably is, so walk away from it. And, to those who would seek to defraud the public -- don't even think about it; we will stop you dead in your tracks." Ms. MAUSKOPF stated that the investigation was continuing.

Postal Inspector-in-Charge DALGLEISH stated, "STEVEN FASANO, THOMAS FASANO and THERESA D'AMICO are yet another example of a group of coldhearted and calculating individuals who prey on America's most vulnerable - the elderly. The victims in this case, thinking they were making wise investments based on information provided by the operators of this boiler room, New World Coins and Rarities, tossed their life savings away to the tune of over one million dollars. One investor lost over $180,000. Today's arrests demonstrate the commitment of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate, arrest and eventually prosecute those who commit mail fraud...especially when their targets are older Americans."

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum punishment of 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on each count of conviction, and forfeiture and restitution in the amount of approximately $1 million.

The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bonnie S. Klapper.

The Defendants:

Name: STEVEN FASANO
DOB: 2/7/59
Residence: 21 Marc Street
Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y. 11779

Name: THOMAS FASANO
DOB: 5/15/65
Residence: 87 Sequoia Way
Holbrook, N.Y. 11741

Name: THERESA D'AMICO
DOB: 6/25/55
Residence: 21 Marc Street
Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y. 11779

 

_____________________________

1 The charges announced today are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


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