Founder Of Non-Profit Organization Sentenced To 36 Months In Prison For Defrauding Parents Of Abducted Children
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that PETER SENESE, the Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation (“I CARE”), a purported non-profit organization allegedly dedicated to preventing child abduction and trafficking, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court today by U.S. District Naomi R. Buchwald to 36 months in prison for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In connection with the scheme, SENESE defrauded parents of international abduction victims by falsely representing that he could find and return the children to the United States in exchange for payments to fund his purported international rescue operation. SENESE pled guilty September 8, 2016.
Manhattan Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “In this most cruel and heartbreaking criminal scheme, Peter Senese preyed on the most vulnerable and desperate victims, anguished parents of abducted children. Senese did more than just steal his victims’ money – he robbed them of hope. For seeking personal profit out of others’ pain and tragedy, Senese has been convicted of federal crimes and will now do time in a federal prison. We hope this prosecution provides some measure of justice to those who were so callously victimized by Senese.”
As alleged in the Superseding Indictment and in other documents filed in federal court:
Between November 2013 and February 2015, on his websites (www.stopchildabduction.org and www.petersenese.com) and elsewhere, SENESE claimed falsely that I CARE was “a self-funded not-for-profit 501-C-3 corporation” that successfully “reunited numerous internationally kidnapped children” with their parents “while protecting an exponentially larger number of children from abduction.” SENESE credited I CARE’s success to the “great efforts, financial, legal, and investigative resources” of individuals associated with I CARE, including a team of former members of the U.S. Army component Delta Force. In one instance, SENESE represented to a parent-victim that he could recover her child from India, appearing on a local radio program with the parent-victim, and sending numerous text messages and emails to the parent-victim stating falsely that he was in a “remote location” in India, was communicating with her child, and that the child would be returned to the United States in a matter of hours or days. Though he never traveled overseas or communicated with the child, SENESE collected over $70,000 from the parent-victim.
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In addition to the prison sentence, SENESE, 51, of Brooklyn, New York, was ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture in the amount $85,100.
Mr. Kim praised the outstanding work of the FBI for its investigative efforts and ongoing support and assistance with the case.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaimie L. Nawaday is in charge of the case.