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Five Charged in Connection with Alleged Internet Aircraft Equipment Fraud Scheme

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Somerset NJ, Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced charges against five individuals in connection with an internet fraud scheme involving the sale of aircraft equipment and replacement parts.

Between the dates of February 3, 2017 and March 28, 2022, the defendants allegedly participated in a conspiracy to defraud business entities by pretending to sell specialized equipment, including airline ground support equipment (GSE) and hydraulic jacks.

Shortly after payments for purchased equipment entered bank accounts, the defendants allegedly removed the funds via a series of cash withdrawals, or transfers to another identified co-conspirator’s account. However, the victims never received the equipment or a refund. The defendants allegedly obtained more than $1 million from businesses operating throughout the United States and internationally through fraudulent means.

The following defendants were arrested on March 31, 2022 and charged with the listed offenses:

Antonio P. Signo, aka “Tony Demetro,” 35, of Somerset, N.J.

  • 2nd Degree Conspiracy
  • 2nd Degree Theft by Deception
  • 2nd Degree Receiving Stolen Property
  • 2nd Degree Money Laundering

Sonny Signo, 54, of Elizabeth, N.J.

  • 2nd Degree Conspiracy
  • 2nd Degree Receiving Stolen Property

Eddie S. Signo, 28, of Iselin, N.J.

  • 2nd Degree Conspiracy
  • 2nd Degree Receiving Stolen Property

Champagne Thompson, 29, of Iselin, N.J.

  • 2nd Degree Conspiracy
  • 3rd Degree Receiving Stolen Property

Co-defendant Cindy K. Drake, 36, of Somerset, N.J. was charged on a complaint-summons for second-degree receiving stolen property in connection with the internet scheme.

Antonio Signo is detained pending trial in the Somerset County Jail. All others were released.

The charges are the result of an investigation opened by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial and Cyber Crimes Bureau after it received a referral from the Scottsdale, Arizona Police Department.

Deputy Attorney General Derek Miller is lead prosecutor on the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial and Cyber Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Mark Kurzawa. The investigation was conducted in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security Investigations-Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to ten years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Division of Criminal Justice Tip Line at 866-847-7425.

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