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Press Release

Hunterdon County Man Charged with $1.5 Million Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A Hunterdon County, New Jersey, man has been charged with defrauding a New Jersey-based title insurance company of approximately $1.5 million, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Ralph Divino, 62, of Annandale, New Jersey, was indicted on two counts of wire fraud.  He appeared on Oct. 31, 2023, before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III in Newark federal court, entered a plea of not guilty, and was released on unsecured bond.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From October 2018 through November 2018, Divino executed a scheme to defraud a New Jersey-based title insurance company through which he fraudulently obtained a residential property and funds exceeding $900,000. Through Divino’s scheme, the title insurance company lost approximately $1.5 million.

Divino advised the title insurance company of his purported intention to purchase two residential properties in Warren, New Jersey, and Annandale, New Jersey. Divino then falsely represented that he had wired $1.5 million for the purchase of both properties when, in fact, he never sent any funds. Divino advised the title insurance company that he no longer wished to purchase the Warren property. Relying on Divino’s false assurances that he had wired $1.5 million to the title insurance company, the title insurance company issued Divino a check for $987,000 as a refund, which Divino cashed and used to purchase personal items, including luxury cars. Divino also closed on and assumed ownership of the Annandale property, still never having provided any funds to title insurance company.

In November 2018, after the closing on the Annandale property, the title insurance company discovered that Divino had never wired any money to purchase either property. When representatives from the title insurance company asked Divino about this, Divino provided them with two checks from his purported business account totaling $1.5 million. After the bank refused to honor Divino’s checks, citing insufficient funds, Divino engaged in an email exchange with an employee of the title insurance company in which he falsely assured the employee that the checks could be used to reimburse the title insurance company, or that Divino would otherwise provide the missing funds. In truth, at the time of those communications, the business account from which Divino had issued the checks had a negative balance. Divino never reimbursed the title insurance company for the fraudulently obtained funds.

Each wire fraud count carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of either $250,000 or twice the gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. 

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Samantha C. Fasanello of the Cybercrime Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Updated November 2, 2023

Mortgage Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-320