Man from Passaic County Charged with Defrauding Investors Over $ 1 Million | USAO-NJ
NEWARK, NJ – A man in Passaic County, New Jersey was arrested today in a scheme to defraud investors over $ 1 million through various false statements and omissions regarding its business activities and background, said Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig.
Gregory Ciccone, 43, of Woodland Park, New Jersey, is charged with securities fraud. He appeared this afternoon by videoconference before US investigating judge Leda Dunn Wettre and was released on $ 300,000 bail.
According to the documents filed in this case and the statements made in court:
Ciccone, who had previously been convicted of wire fraud and filing a false tax return, orchestrated an investment fraud scheme again in which he obtained around $ 1.5 million worth of money. at least 22 investors through short-term, high-interest promissory notes in less than two years. Ciccone told potential investors that his companies, Platinum Travel and Entertainment LLC, a New Jersey-based LLC, and Platinum Enterprises & Concierge Services Inc. (Platinum) were reserving blocks of rooms in luxury hotels, which would then be resold. to elite clients. to profit.
Investors have been promised a 15-50% return on their investments for periods ranging from one month to six months. Instead of using the funds to reserve blocks of rooms at luxury hotels, Ciccone embezzled the funds for personal expenses and in some cases paid other investors to believe their investment was making a profit. . Faced with requests for transparency and redemption by some investors, Ciccone failed to honor redemption requests, made false statements about its inability to honor redemption requests, inaccurate and omitted material facts and provided to certain investors forged, altered or otherwise fraudulent documents. .
Ciccone did not reveal to some victim investors before they invest that he had a federal criminal conviction and that the terms of his supervised release prohibited him from entering into promissory notes without the approval of his probation officer. American, which he had not asked for.
From May 2019 to November 2019, Ciccone also made false statements to other victimized investors directly and through Individual 1, who started raising funds on behalf of Ciccone in May 2019. Ciccone spoke to Individual 1 and sent emails containing lists of alleged “immediate bookings” at various hotels in response to his need to fundraise for Platinum. Ciccone made these statements to Individual 1 knowing that the Individual 1 would release the information to investors and potential investors. Ciccone’s statements to Individual 1, which Individual 1 released to investors, were false. Platinum and Ciccone had failed to secure hotel reservations, and Ciccone did not use funds obtained from Victim Investors to secure the hotel reservations listed in these communications.
During the scheme, Ciccone embezzled the majority of funds received from victim investors, totaling at least $ 1.35 million, using the money to pay for personal items, such as $ 54,330 to buy a BMW; approximately $ 235,000 to purchase clothing, wine and other personal items; and over $ 216,000 in cash withdrawals. Ciccone also used investor funds to pay approximately $ 120,000 to other investors with overdue notes.
The securities fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $ 5 million.
Acting US Attorney Honig thanked Special Agents in the US Attorney’s Office, under the leadership of Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Mahoney; special agents from the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina in Newark; and IRS Special Agents – Criminal Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez in Newark, the investigation leading to today’s charges. She also thanked the Denver regional office of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, under the leadership of Regional Director Kurt Gottschall, for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant US Attorney Vijay Dewan of the Economic Crimes Unit of the US Attorney’s Office.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are only charges, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.