Old Bridge man allegedly cheated credit card companies & banks

An Old Bridge, New Jersey, man was arrested today for allegedly using phony payments and false identity theft claims to deceive credit card companies and banks into giving him funds and credit.

Sandy John Masselli, 55, is charged by complaint with two counts of bank fraud and two counts of wire fraud. FBI agents arrested Masselli at his residence this morning. Masselli is scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court.

According to U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick and the complaint, from June 2014 through July 2017, Masselli engaged in three separate but related schemes to fraudulently obtain credit and funds from various credit card companies and two brokerage firms. 

In one scheme, Masselli opened accounts with certain credit card companies, made purchases with these accounts until he had almost reached or exceeded the credit limit, and then sent payments from bank accounts that he knew did not have sufficient funds to cover the purchases.

Before the fraudulent payments were rejected for insufficient funds, the credit card companies temporarily credited Masselli’s accounts based on those payments, providing him access to additional credit and allowing him to continue to make purchases. Masselli failed to pay these balances and the credit card companies sustained substantial losses.

In another scheme, Masselli opened credit accounts with two credit card companies, made thousands of dollars in purchases, and then falsely represented to these credit card companies that the accounts had been opened fraudulently and used without his authorization, causing these companies to close the accounts and sustain losses.

As part of a third scheme, Masselli attempted to deposit more than $600,000 in checks from a closed account into a new brokerage account, which he then tried to use for various personal expenses. Those transfers were unsuccessful because the checks he deposited were ultimately returned as unpaid.

The bank fraud counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The wire fraud counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense.

Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas P. Grippo of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) say Masselli worked at several major securities and brokerage firms, including Prudential Securities, Inc., Drexel Burnham Lambert, Inc., Shearson Lehman Hutton, Inc. and Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith, Inc.

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