Union County, New Jersey, Woman Admits Role In $2 Million Debt Payoff Scheme
NEWARK, N.J. – A Union County, New Jersey, woman today admitted making and using phony money orders, cashier’s checks, receipts and other fabricated documents to fraudulently discharge $2 million in mortgages, student loans, and other financial obligations, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Melissa Reynolds, 43, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls to an information charging her with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud affecting financial institutions, and bank fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Beginning in early 2014, Reynolds and Germaine H. King, 41, of Elizabeth, began making fraudulent money orders, cashier’s checks, and other fictitious documents on their home computer. They began mailing these phony money orders to financial institutions and other lenders in their attempt to fraudulently discharge their lawful debts. Reynolds discharged and attempted to discharge more than $2 million in lawful debts.
For example, in May 2014, Reynolds and King mailed fraudulent money orders for $22,260 and $39,585 to a credit union in an effort to fraudulently pay off their Mercedes-Benz cars. They also made and mailed a fraudulent money order for $432,000 to a financial institution as a complete payoff of the mortgage on Reynolds’ home in Elizabeth. The financial institution erroneously accepted the fraudulent payment and credited it as a payoff for her mortgage. Later, a state court reinstated the mortgage.
Reynolds and others unsuccessfully used the same scheme to seek the discharge of other mortgages, including Reynolds’ second residence in Newark, the residence of a conspirator in Hillside, New Jersey, the residence of an individual in West Orange, New Jersey, and the residence of an individual in Bowie, Maryland. Certain of these mortgages were Federal Housing Administration mortgages backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, including the mortgage on Reynolds’ Newark residence. Reynolds and her conspirators mailed fraudulent money orders to HUD or companies acting on behalf of HUD. These payments were rejected.
Reynolds also sought to fraudulently discharge more than $52,000 in student loans with fraudulent money orders and cashier’s checks. On March 20, 2017, Reynolds sent a fraudulent cashier’s check in the amount $67,000 to the Department of Education’s processing company. These payments were rejected.
Beginning in early 2017, Reynolds, King, and Daniel K. Dxrams, a/k/a “Daniel Kusi,” a/k/a “Danny D. Dxrams,” a/k/a “Randy N. Amoateng,” 40, of Maplewood, New Jersey, conspired to fraudulently pay off Dxrams’ auto leases on a 2012 Bentley, 2016 Rolls Royce Coupe, 2015 Mercedes-Benz, 2016 Mercedes-Benz, and Dxrams’ family member’s 2015 Mercedes-Benz. Reynolds sent a bogus $101,000 cashier’s check to a finance company that enabled Dxrams to obtain title to the Bentley, which Dxrams sold to a third party for approximately $85,000 and then issued a genuine cashier’s check to King for approximately $25,000. Reynolds, King, and Dxrams used this scheme to fraudulently pay off the other luxury cars.
The mail fraud and bank fraud conspiracy to which Reynolds pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 19, 2019.
On Nov. 9, 2018, a federal grand jury sitting in Newark returned a second superseding indictment against King and Dxrams. This indictment charged King with conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud conspiracy and bank fraud charges. It also charged King and Dxrams with conspiracy to commit mail fraud related to the luxury car scheme and substantive mail fraud counts. The indictment charged Dxrams with bankruptcy fraud and making a false oath in a bankruptcy proceeding.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark; the N.J. Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, under the direction of Director Jared Maples; the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Geoffrey Wood; and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The charges and allegations in the second superseding Indictment and previously filed complaint are merely accusations, and those defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Moscato, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s National Security Unit, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lakshmi Srinivasan Herman, of the National Security Unit, in Newark.
Reynolds: Robert J. Degroot Esq., and Oleg Nekritin Esq., Newark