Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced charges against five individuals in connection with an internet fraud scheme involving the sale of aircraft equipment and replacement parts.
Between Feb. 3, 2017, and March 28, 2022, the defendants allegedly participated in a conspiracy to defraud business entities by pretending to sell specialized equipment, including airline ground support equipment (GSE) and hydraulic jacks, according to information released on April 14.
Shortly after payments for purchased equipment entered bank accounts, the defendants allegedly removed the funds via a series of cash withdrawals, or transfers to another identified co-conspirator’s account. However, the victims never received the equipment or a refund, according to the statement.
The defendants allegedly obtained more than $1 million from businesses operating throughout the United States and internationally through fraudulent means, according to the statement.
The following defendants were arrested on March 31 and charged with the listed offenses:
Antonio P. Signo, aka “Tony Demetro,” 35, of Somerset: conspiracy, theft by deception, receiving stolen property and money laundering, all in the second degree;
Sonny Signo, 54, of Elizabeth: conspiracy and receiving stolen property, both in the second degree;
Eddie S. Signo, 28, of the Iselin section of Woodbridge: conspiracy and receiving stolen property, both in the second degree;
Champagne Thompson, 29, of Iselin, second-degree conspiracy and third-degree receiving stolen property; and
Co-defendant Cindy K. Drake, 36, of Somerset, was charged on a complaint-summons for second-degree receiving stolen property in connection with the internet scheme.
Antonio Signo is detained pending trial in the Somerset County Jail, as of April 14, according to the statement. All others were released.
The charges are the result of an investigation opened by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial and Cyber Crimes Bureau after it received a referral from the Scottsdale, Arizona Police Department.
Deputy Attorney General Derek Miller is lead prosecutor on the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial and Cyber Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Mark Kurzawa. The investigation was conducted in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security Investigations-Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of 5-10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of 3-5 years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Anyone with information should call the Division of Criminal Justice Tip Line at 866-847-7425.