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Post date: February 5 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Conviction And Sentencing Of Serial Fraudster Who Preyed On Immigrants

Sonia Vertucci Confessed To Taking Victims’ Cash For A Wide Variety Of Services That Were Never Delivered

Vertucci Will Serve 1-3 Years In State Prison And Will Pay Restitution To Victims

Schneiderman: No Matter How Elaborate Their Schemes, Fraudsters Who Prey On Vulnerable New Yorkers Will Be Brought To Justice

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the guilty plea of Sonia Vertucci, who admitted to operating a long-running scheme to steal from Queens’s residents by falsely promising a wide range of services to her predominantly immigrant clients in a scheme that involved more than $100,000 in fraudulent payments for services she never delivered or refunded victims’ money.

“Our message is clear: no matter how elaborate their schemes, fraudsters who prey on vulnerable New Yorkers will be brought to justice” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Scam artists who prey on immigrants, or other hardworking New Yorkers, with false promises will not be tolerated in our state”

Vertucci, 42, of New Rochelle, pleaded guilty in Supreme Court in Queens County to one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class “E” felony). She was sentenced to a term of 1-3 years in state prison, and was ordered to pay restitution to victims after her release.

The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that between 2012 and 2014, Vertucci operated an elaborate scheme to defraud New Yorkers, allegedly promising a wide variety of services she could not, and did not deliver. She promised immigrants Social Security cards and to help obtaining legal residency status; and promised truck drivers she would clear up tickets and license suspensions to allow them to get back to work. In each case she demanded money up front, usually in cash, and then did nothing. She collected more than 100, 000 dollars from victims in Queens and other New York counties.

To deceive her clients, Vertucci cloaked her scam with an veneer of legitimacy. The investigation revealed that she rented retail storefronts on busy avenues, with awnings and signs advertising “Express DMV Services,” “Mailbox Rentals,” “Auto Insurance,” “Immigration,” and other services. The stores had plausible sounding names, such as “Multi-Service Center” and “Tristate Business Center,” and were populated with administrative staff. Customers were falsely told that Vertucci had lawyers on call to assist her, and were given official-looking receipts for payment. In reality, Vertucci had no businesses on file with the New York Department of State. She obtained leases for her commercial spaces by passing bad checks, and vacated – with victims’ money – just before being evicted. She then set up a new store and defrauded new victims.

This investigation was initiated by the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau. The Attorney General thanks the New York State Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for their cooperation on this case. The investigation was handled by Investigator Sixto Santiago, Supervising Investigator Luis Carter, Deputy Chief Investigator Vito Spano, and Chief Dominick Zarrella of the Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau.

This case was prosecuted by Senior Counsel Brian McDonald and Senior Analyst Jacqui Brown in the Attorney General’s Criminal Division, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. Essential assistance has been provided by Assistant Attorney General Dariely Rodriguez, Special Counsel Jessica Attie, Legal Assistant Shamika Rosario, and Civil Rights Bureau Chief Kristen Clarke. The Civil Rights Bureau is part of the Social Justice Division, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg.