Southampton Couple Indicted for Elder Fraud Scheme
John Ficarra and Mara Ficarra Targeted Thousands of Elderly Victims
An indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Central Islip charging John Ficarra and his wife Mara Ficarra with conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The Ficarras were arrested this morning, and will be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division (USPIS), announced the charges.
“The defendants preyed upon some of the most vulnerable members of our community, stealing their personal information and defrauding financial institutions,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Protecting the elderly from financial fraud remains a priority of the Department of Justice.” Mr. Donoghue also expressed his appreciation to the Southampton Town Police Department for its assistance with the investigation and today’s arrests.
“The Ficarra’s exploited victims by fraudulently using their bank routing numbers and bank account number to produce counterfeit checks,” stated USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Bartlett. “The checks were then deposited into accounts they controlled. Once the checks cleared, they withdrew the funds to the tune of more than $1 million.”
The Ficarras owned, operated and held senior management positions in various companies, including Remington Biographies, Inc., Remington Bookkeepers, Inc., and Mentorship America1, Inc. (collectively, the “Remington Entities”). The Remington Entities purported to publish reference publications containing biographical information of individuals across the country. Those publications included “Inspiring the Youth of America” and “The Remington Registry of Outstanding Professionals.”
As alleged in the indictment, from 2013 to the present, the Ficarras caused letters and pamphlets to be mailed to victims, primarily the elderly, indicating that the victim’s biography would be published in one of the reference publications. The letters, addressed “Dear Nominee,” indicated, “Your 2 books and your plaque are paid for in full and ready for delivery. Please send a check for $14.00 dollars for shipping and handling.” The pamphlet described the publication and stated in part, “The Remington Registry of Outstanding Professionals is more than a website, more than a book, more than a Biographical index and certainly more than a who’s who. It is the ultimate expression of achievements, hardships, and dedication that professionals have made in their lives and careers…. Sit back and be ready for a wonderful experience.” The mailings induced thousands of victims to send checks as payment for inclusion in the reference publications. The Ficarras then used the routing and bank account information on those checks to produce fraudulent checks for larger dollar amounts, which they then deposited into bank accounts they controlled at Citibank, Everbank, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, among other financial institutions. The Ficarras promptly withdrew cash from the accounts, stealing more than $1 million dollars from the victim subscribers and financial institutions.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorney Catherine M. Mirabile is in charge of the prosecution, with the assistance of Assistant United States Attorney Madeline O’Connor of the Office’s Civil Division, which is responsible for the forfeiture of assets.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-679 (JS)