NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Brooklyn man preyed on vulnerable and desperate parents of abducted children, conning them out of thousands, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Peter Senese set up two websites claiming he was the founding director of a not-for-profit operation called the “I CARE Foundation,” prosecutors said. On the sites, he claimed to have a track record of recovering children who had been abducted and taken abroad.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, prosecutors alleged that Senese defrauded parents who were the victims of international abduction by claiming that he could rescue their kids and return them for money.
“As alleged, Peter Senese fed a pack of lies to desperate parents by telling them, among other things, that he and his company could, for a price, locate and recover their internationally kidnapped children,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. “In fact, he could do no such thing, but that didn’t stop him from allegedly repeatedly reaching out to the parents for more money to fund his non-existent rescue mission. This type of alleged fraud that preys on the especially vulnerable and desperate is a top priority for us, and we will work to ensure those who commit these outrageous crimes are held to strict account.”
Web Extra: Read the Complaint (.pdf)
According to the complaint, Senese claimed to be a former member of the Delta Force with access to other former Delta Force operators, prosecutors said. On his websites, he claimed to be “a hero for others” who “reunited numerous internationally kidnapped children while preventing an exponentially larger number of children from abduction.”
The complaint outlines a scheme in which Senese allegedly conned a man whose child had been taken to India out of at least $21,000. When the victim said he didn’t have any more money to fund the bogus rescue operation, Senese contacted the man’s parents, who wired him $25,000, prosecutors said.
Senese is accused of wire fraud and faces up to 30 years in prison.