New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that the Division of Criminal Justice has obtained a guilty plea from a Monmouth County man on charges that he stole more than $50,000 from individuals who purchased various types of electronic merchandise through Internet-based auction sites and never received the items. The fraudulent scheme victimized 22 individuals from 17 states.
According to Vaughn McKoy, director, Division of Criminal Justice, Wayne J. DeVita, 26, of Lincroft, Monmouth County, pleaded guilty before Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Frederick DeVesa to a criminal Accusation which charged theft by deception (3rd degree). A third degree crime is punishable by up to five years in state prison, a fine of up to $15,000, and restitution. DeVita is scheduled to be sentenced on April 22.
“Computer-related crime such as fraud and theft is a high priority for the Attorney General’s Office of Computer Crime which includes state investigators from the Division of Criminal Justice Computer Analysis & Technology Unit and detectives from the State Police High Technology Crimes & Investigation Support Unit,” said Harvey. “The Attorney General’s Office encourages the public to be extremely careful when purchasing merchandise via the Internet. Always make certain you are dealing with legitimate companies and that any financial transaction is via a secure server. Never provide credit card or social security numbers to unknown individuals or corporations. If you suspect fraud, contact the Division of Criminal Justice Computer Analysis & Technology Unit, the State Police High Technology Crimes & Investigation Support Unit, the county prosecutor’s office or local police.”
In pleading guilty, DeVita reportedly admitted that from August, 2000 through June, 2001, to using a home computer system to advertise the availability and sale of electronic merchandise such as computers, laptops, scanners and printers. The items were listed for auction via the Internet through e-Bay and Yahoo. (Note: Internet auctions allow a seller to list an item for sale at some minimum price. The host Web site gathers bids from interested purchasers for as long as 10 days after which time the winning bidder sends payment to the seller who in turn ships the purchased goods to the bidder.)
DeVita admitted that on 22 separate occasions he sold or auctioned $50,833 worth of merchandise he did not possess and could not obtain, collected advance cash payments (generally through money orders or PayPal), and failed to deliver the merchandise or return the cash payments to the purchaser. The investigation determined that DeVita used various names and/or organizations and various E-Mail and Web addresses to receive and negotiate payments.
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