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Dec 20, 2018 3:20 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Couple Indicted For Elder Fraud Scheme

Dec 31, 2018 3:01 PM

A Shinnecock Hills couple was indicted earlier this month for mail, wire and bank fraud, as well as money laundering, in an elder fraud scheme that targeted thousands, according to a federal prosecutor.

The Southampton Town Police Department arrested John and Mara Ficarra on December 20, following a lengthy investigation by local and federal authorities.

According to a statement made by the Long Island Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the couple owned, operated and held senior management positions under the umbrella company Remington Entities, which promised to publish biographies of older people nationwide for a fee. The books “Inspiring the Youth of America” and “The Remington Registry of Outstanding Professionals” were published by Remington Biographies, Remington Bookkeepers and Mentorship America1.

The Ficarras started mailing letters and pamphlets in 2013 to the elderly, nominating their biographies for publication in one of the reference books. After asking the seniors to pay nominal shipping and handling charges for copies of the books and a plaque, the couple allegedly used bank routing numbers and account information to withdraw large amounts of money.

“The checks were then deposited into accounts they controlled,” said Philip Bartlett, the inspector-in-charge at the New York Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “Once the checks cleared, they withdrew the funds to the tune of more than $1 million.”

Ms. Ficarra was arraigned in federal court in Central Islip. Her husband was arraigned at an undisclosed hospital.

According to Southampton Town Police Lieutenant James Kiernan, Mr. Ficarra was transported to an area hospital at his request. Lt. Kiernan did not disclose the details due to privacy reasons.

He did, however, hail the work of investigators.

“These cases are so difficult to put together—it is awesome when one of these people who preys on the elderly population finally gets caught and brought to justice,” Lt. Kiernan said.

“The defendants preyed upon some of the most vulnerable members of our community, stealing their personal information and defrauding financial institutions,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue said in a statement. “Protecting the elderly from financial fraud remains a priority of the Department of Justice.”

Mr. and Ms. Ficarra were each released on a $100,000 bond. According to the indictment, if they are convicted, the government could seek forfeiture of their home on Delaria Avenue, because it was purchased with the proceeds of the alleged crimes.

Randi Chavis and Mark Goidell, the defense attorneys for the couple, declined to comment.

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