SCAMMER’S GAMBLE BACKFIRES: Fraudster Who Chilled Customer With Lawsuit Threat Pleads Guilty To Mail Fraud; Philip Pestrichello Faces Up To 20 Years In Prison After Plea In ‘Work-At-Home’ Caper

Source: FBI.Â

UPDATED 4:51 P.M. EDT (U.S.A.) A convicted felon who emerged from prison and almost immediately launched a $1 million fraud scheme known as PPSN threatened to prosecute and sue a consumer who had filed an online complaint, federal prosecutors said.

Although the threat caused the consumer to withdraw the complaint against Philip Pestrichello, Pestrichello’s bid to rattle the consumer’s nerves ultimately backfired because he included a “fake lawsuit number” in a letter to the consumer. Prosecutors used the letter and Pestrichello’s checkered past to persuade a federal judge to deny him bail. He has been jailed since his February arrest, and now faces up to 20 years behind bars after entering a guilty plea in the case.

In the threatening letter, Pestrichello advised the complainant that “we will proceed by filing a lawsuit against you in The State of New York and you will be subject to prosecution, fines and penalties including monetary damages,” prosecutors said.

Pestrichello also threatened “victim-consumers who lodged on-line complaints warning others that PPSN was a scam,” prosecutors said.

The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service worked together in the Pestrichello case, which was brought in February as one of the undertakings of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

Pestrichello was running a scam enterprise known variously as “Preferred Platinum Services Network LLC” ; “PPSN LLC”; “Home Based Associate Program”;  and the “Postcard Processing Program,” prosecutors said. They added that he had been running scams since the early 1990s and had been sentenced to three years in prison in 2003 after being convicted of mail fraud in a work-at-home scheme known as “IMXT & Co.”

His most recent scam began in 2007 while Pestrichello was on federal probation after serving his time for the 2003 mail-fraud conviction, prosecutors said.

“For nearly 20 years, Philip Pestrichello has preyed on the especially vulnerable — the economically disadvantaged, the unemployed, the disabled, or elderly individuals — who are trying to supplement their income by working from home,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “Pestrichello even began committing his work-at-home scam within one year from his release from prison for a prior scam. If Pestrichello thought he was unstoppable, he was wrong.”

Pestrichello, 38, of Bayville, N.J., now has pleaded guilty to mail fraud in the PPSN case. He faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood on Oct. 26. A fraud case against Pestrichello’s wife, Rosalie Florie, is pending, prosecutors said.

It is common for fraudsters to threaten to sue customers, critics and journalists. Such threats were present in the $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme case of disgraced Florida attorney Scott Rothstein, who eventually was disbarred. He repeatedly threatened to sue a reporter who questioned his business practices in the weeks leading up the the exposure of the scheme.

Threats against customers and journalists also were part of the alleged AdSurfDaily Ponzi scheme case. ASD President Andy Bowdoin, according to August 2008 court filings, told customers that he had set aside $750,000 to sue critics.

“These people that are making these slanderous remarks, they are going to continue these slanderous remarks in a court of law defending about a 30 to 40 million dollar slander lawsuit,” Bowdoin said, according to federal prosecutors. “Now, we’re ready to do battle with anybody. We have a legal fund set up. Right now we have about $750,000 in that legal fund. So we’re ready to get everything started and get the ball rolling.”

Less than a month after Bowdoin allegedly issued the threat in July 2008, the U.S. Secret Service raided ASD’s Florida headquarters. Prosecutors said the company was operating a $100 million Ponzi scheme and engaging in wire fraud and money-laundering.

Even after the raid, some ASD members continued to threaten Bowdoin’s detractors. One ASD member suggested Bowdoin’s critics would be dragged off in handcuffs for speaking out against the autosurf firm, publishing his version of lyrics from the television program “COPS” to put a chill on the purported slanderers.

“Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?” he chanted on the now-defunct AdSurfZone forum, a predecessor site to the Pro-ASD Surf’s Up forum. “Whatcha Gonna Do>WHEN<THEY COME FOR YOU ?!!!”

In June 2009, while the AdViewGlobal (AVG) autosurf was failing, members were threatened with lawsuits for sharing information that purportedly was “copyrighted.” Members also were told that they risked losing their Internet service for questioning the firm in public. Journalists who published information about AVG were threatened with lawsuits.

When the Pathway To Prosperity HYIP scheme was collapsing in 2008, members were threatened with “expulsion,” according to court filings.

“When complaints were made externally to service providers or supposed payment agents,
scathing rebukes were made to the ‘members,'” according to court filings.

In February 2010, Blogger Sybille Yates announced she had been threatened with a lawsuit for calling the INetGlobal autosurf a “scam” in September 2009.

On Feb. 23, the U.S. Secret Service raided INetGlobal’s Minneapolis offices. An affidavit by the U.S. Secret Service described the company as operating an international Ponzi scheme. A federal probe into INetGlobal’s business practices is ongoing.

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2 Responses to “SCAMMER’S GAMBLE BACKFIRES: Fraudster Who Chilled Customer With Lawsuit Threat Pleads Guilty To Mail Fraud; Philip Pestrichello Faces Up To 20 Years In Prison After Plea In ‘Work-At-Home’ Caper”

  1. Press release here:

    It read like a text book version of the typical stuffing envelopes scam.