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Press Release

New Jersey Business Owner Admits Operating Corporate Ponzi Scheme

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

NEWARK, N.J. – The owner of a group of freight payment, logistics, and shipping businesses headquartered in Branchburg, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and money laundering, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Shirley Sooy, 65, currently of Fort Smith, Arkansas, pleaded before U.S. District Judge William Walls in Newark federal court to an information charging her with one count of wire fraud and one count of transacting in criminal proceeds.

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

From 2010 through April 2013, Sooy, through a collection of businesses operating under the umbrella of the “TransVantage Group,” entered contracts with corporate clients – referred to in a criminal complaint as the “victim companies.” TransVantage audited freight bills generated by common carriers and freight forwarders hired by the victim companies. TransVantage was obligated to pay the audited and approved freight bills to the carriers from funds provided by those companies, and the funds were supposed to be held in trust by TransVantage until paid over to the carriers. The victim companies also paid TransVantage for its purported auditing services, payments separate and apart from the carrier payment funds.

Sooy operated TransVantage as a Ponzi scheme, which resulted in substantial losses to the victim companies. Sooy and others comingled the funds from the victim companies – funds that were to have been paid to carriers – and then misused those funds in various ways. They paid unauthorized operating expenses and personal expenses.

The count of wire fraud to which Sooy pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the gain or loss from the offense. The count of transacting in criminal proceeds with which Sooy is charged carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for June 28, 2016.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Postal Inspector in Charge James Ball; and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Andrew Leven of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.           

Today’s arrest is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorney’s offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit

Defense counsel:  Michael J. Rogers Esq., Somerville, N.J.

Updated September 2, 2016

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 16-087