Southampton Woman Pleads Guilty to Elder Fraud Scheme

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, Mara Ficarra pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud.  The proceeding was held before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert.  When sentenced, Ficarra faces up to five years in prison, as well as forfeiture and restitution of more than $1.5 million.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Daniel B. Brubaker, Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division (USPIS). announced the guilty plea.

“Ficarra enriched herself by preying upon vulnerable elderly members of our community in an elaborate solicitation to immortalize the victims’ through inclusion of their biographies in reference publications she controlled, when in fact it was a scheme designed to steal their hard-earned savings.  With today’s guilty plea, Ficarra has ensured that her own legacy is that of a convicted fraudster,” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “This Office is committed to protecting the elderly from financial fraud and ending elder abuse in all its pernicious forms.”  Mr. Peace thanked the Southampton Town Police Department for its assistance with the investigation.

“Mara Ficarra took advantage of the elderly, leading them to believe their legacies would be preserved in The Remington Registry of Outstanding Professionals. What she did instead was prey on innocent victims and continue to drain their bank accounts of over $1.5 million. Postal Inspectors will tirelessly pursue anyone who targets the elderly for fraud. Today’s guilty plea is proof of the commitment of Postal Inspectors and our partners in the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bring these scammers to justice,” stated USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Brubaker.

As set forth in court filings, Ficarra and a co-conspirator owned, operated and held senior management positions in various companies, including Remington Biographies, Inc., Remington Bookkeepers, Inc., and Mentorship America1, Inc. (collectively, the “Remington Entities”).  The Remington Entities purported to publish reference publications containing biographical information of individuals across the country.  Those publications included “Inspiring the Youth of America” and “The Remington Registry of Outstanding Professionals.”

From 2013 to December 2018, Ficarra caused letters and pamphlets to be mailed to victims, primarily the elderly, indicating that the victim’s biography would be published in one of the reference publications.  The letters, addressed “Dear Nominee,” indicated, “Your 2 books and your plaque are paid for in full and ready for delivery.  Please send a check for $14.00 dollars for shipping and handling.”  The pamphlet described the publication and stated in part, “The Remington Registry of Outstanding Professionals is more than a who’s who.  It is the ultimate expression of achievements, hardships, and dedication that professionals have made in their lives and careers….  Sit back and be read for a wonderful experience.”  The mailings induced hundreds of victims to send checks as payment for inclusion in the reference publications.  Ficarra then used the routing and bank account information on those checks to produce fraudulent checks for larger dollar amounts, which she then deposited into bank accounts she and a co-conspirator controlled at Citibank, Everbank, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, among other financial institutions.  Ficarra then promptly withdrew cash from the accounts, stealing more than $1.5 million dollars from the victim subscribers and financial institutions.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorney Catherine M. Mirabile is in charge of the prosecution, with the assistance of Assistant United States Attorney Madeline O’Connor who is handling forfeiture matters.

The Defendant:

Age:  57
Southampton, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-679 (S-1) (JS)