PHILADELPHIA, NJ -- A Burlington County Man has been arrested and charged with 30 criminal counts in connection with multiple business fraud schemes that ranged from real estate to automobile leases according to First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams
Michael Salerno, 51, of Mount Laurel, was arrested and charged by indictment with twenty-three counts of wire fraud and six counts of mail fraud in connection with multiple, elaborate fraud schemes. If convicted, Salerno could face a maximum possible sentence of 580 years in prison, three years supervised release, a fine of $7,250,000 and full restitution.
According to the indictment, between September 2016 and at least November 2018, Salerno allegedly operated a series of businesses -- Black Diamond Forex, L.P., BDF Trading, L.P., Advanta Capital Markets, Inc., and Advanta FX, -- that claimed to foreign currency trading businesses.
Using a variety of misrepresentations and omissions that were false, Salerno allegedly induced victims to pay advance fees—up-front payments of typically more than $1,000—in order to be hired by Salerno’s company. He told the victims that, upon being hired, he would make available to them a pool of $10 million which they could trade on the foreign currency market, and take a generous cut of any profits.
To make his fraudulent activities appear legitimate, Salerno allegedly held himself out as a sophisticated and successful businessman who managed a real estate empire, a portion of which he claimed to have recently sold for $10 million to fund the currency-trading venture. He also allegedly claimed that he had been a profitable currency trader.
The FBI says none of these representations are true and that Salerno declared bankruptcy twice, most recently in 2015. The agency also says Salerno had been evicted multiple times from rental homes for failure to pay rent. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to federal tax charges and was sentenced to 21 months in prison. He failed to disclose any of this to the aforementioned victims before taking their money. Instead, Salerno allegedly collected more than $300,000 in advance fees and used the money for his own benefit.
“When Salerno’s foreign currency trading scheme came crashing down around him, he very quickly moved on to an alternative way of swindling people out of their money with car leases and loans,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams. “The damage done by such corrupt financial schemes can be catastrophic to innocent people’s credit and financial security. We will continue to hold those who commit crimes like the ones alleged here accountable for their misdeeds.”
The FBI says that Salerno's currency-trading scheme came to a halt when they opened a criminal investigation and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission sought and obtained an injunction against Salerno and his businesses in 2018.
However, Salerno allegedly turned immediately to a second scheme says the FBI. The indictment claims that between May 2018 and least December 2019, Salerno operated a company called AccuOne Financial, Inc. that purported to be in the business of assisting clients in ridding themselves of unwanted automobile leases. It also purported to offer a different set of clients, whose personal credit precluded them from obtaining an automobile lease, access to automobile leases, low interest vehicle loans, and credit repair services.
But Salerno allegedly failed to do as promised, instead ripping off both sets of clients.
In relation to this set of allegation, the indictment says that Salerno took the unwanted vehicles from the first set of clients, made few - if any - of the required lease payments, and then allegedly gave the vehicles to the second set of clients who could not obtain their own leases, in exchange for substantial monthly fees.
The predictable result of this house of cards-style scheme was that the clients who wanted to get out of their leases either continued to make monthly lease payments for cars they no longer had, or suffered substantial damage to their credit and the vehicles repossessed without warning. The FBI says that Salerno netted several hundred thousand dollars from this scheme alone.
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