BOSTON, Feb. 23 2005 LAWFUEL – The Law News Network — A Massachusetts man has been indicted on wire and mail fraud charges in connection with a series of on-line scams in which he received approximately $115,000 in payments from individuals for the purported sale of items such as Rolex watches. However, once he received the
payments, items were never delivered to the buyers and no refunds were given.
United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Peter Zegarac, Acting
Postal Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in New
England, announced today that MICHAEL R. DEPPE, age 20, of 59 Bennett Street,
Hudson, Massachusetts, was indicted by a federal grand jury of 8 counts of
Wire Fraud and 2 counts of Mail Fraud.
The Indictment alleges that DEPPE scammed a number of people by contacting
them via email claiming he had merchandise to sell, primarily electronic
equipment and Rolex watches. The potential customers were identified by DEPPE
because they had bid unsuccessfully on similar items through on-line auction
sites like eBay.
Although specifics of each scam varied, it is alleged that DEPPE often
requested his customers to pay him by wire-transferring money to his bank
account. It is alleged that to persuade the customers that the sales were
legitimate, DEPPE gave the customers a U.S. Postal Service tracking number for
the packages that he claimed were being shipped to them with their
merchandise. It is alleged that in some cases DEPPE even allowed customers to
wait before wiring the purchase money to him until they could confirm through
the Postal Service that a package was on its way to their zip code. It was not
possible, however, for the customers to tell from the Postal Service tracking
website to what specific address the package was being sent.
It is alleged that DEPPE did often send a package to a customer’s zip code
but these packages were addressed incorrectly and were filled with worthless
newspapers or sports trading cards instead of the merchandise he had sold
them. It is alleged that DEPPE intentionally sent the packages to incorrect
addresses to generate the necessary Postal Service tracking number while
avoiding having the worthless packages delivered to the customers, which would
have immediately alerted them to the fraud.
It is alleged that when customers complained to DEPPE that they had not
received their merchandise, he often claimed there had been a shipping error
and refused to refund their money.
It is alleged that from March 2003 through December 2004, DEPPE defrauded
approximately 27 people of approximately $115,000 in total in this manner. It
is alleged that DEPPE took most of the fraud proceeds out of his bank accounts
in cash and spent the rest on personal expenses.
DEPPE was arrested in Florida on a criminal complaint in connection with
these charges on February 4, 2004. He has been in the custody of the U.S.
Marshals since that time and will be transported back to Massachusetts to face
the charges. If convicted, DEPPE, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in
prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine
on each of the 10 counts.
The investigation is continuing.
U.S. Attorney Sullivan would like to especially thank the Office of
Worcester County District Attorney John Conte for referring the case for
federal prosecution, which is being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection
Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Bookbinder in
Sullivan’s Computer Crimes Unit.
The details contained in the Indictment are allegations. The defendant is
presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable
doubt in a court of law.