Faking It Didn’t Make It

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Hand with tweezers holding id photo over passport as if forging the travel documents

A North Providence, R.I., man and his co-conspirators were sentenced to prison for 30 months for conspiring to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. They were involved in an automobile warranty fraud scheme that caused a loss of more than $385,352.19 to a Wilkes-Barre, Pa., automobile warranty company. (Faking invoices seemed like a good idea at the time, but in the end, the co-conspirators ended up in a very bad situation.)

Matthew Gershkoff, 64, Brian Larry, 59, of Clark’s Summit, Pa., Herman Cabral, 62, of Cranston, R.I., and Jason Pannone, 40, of North Providence prepared false invoices for nonexistent automobile repairs at multiple repair shops located in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts. They also forged the signatures of policy owners so they could get paid by the automobile warranty company. 

Fraud schemes of this magnitude require a little help from other fraudster friends. Larry, who was formerly employed by the automobile warranty company for more than four years, was also convicted of stealing the personal information of policy owners and providing that information to his co-conspirators.

The deceptive cronies then used that stolen information to create false invoices for nonexistent repair work supposedly performed at various garages in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. The false and forged documents were then sent to the warranty company, where Larry approved payment of the invoices. (It was an inside job.)

Larry and his coconspirators obtained approximately $400,000 from the warranty company for this falsified work. He used some of that money to pay for repair work on his personal vehicle. (He charged that autobody work to multiple policy owners. How kind of him.) Trial evidence showed that Larry also falsified internal warranty company documents to conceal his crimes. (Well, he must not have done a very good job.)

Cabral pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and was sentenced to 10 months of imprisonment. He was convicted of processing false invoices for the nonexistent automobile repairs through his automobile detailing shop, A Plus Auto Services. In July 2019, Cabral pleaded guilty to causing a loss of between $150,000 and $250,000 to the Wilkes-Barre based automobile warranty company. He was ordered to pay more than $211,644.03 in restitution. (So much for having A+ service. I’d say it’s more like an F- if there were such a thing.)

Pannone pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire and mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. He was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment. Pannone was convicted of processing false invoices for automobile repairs through his detailing shop, Platinum Auto Services and through his former employer Ultra Auto Services. Plannone pleaded guilty to causing between $95,000 – $150,000 in losses to the same Wilkes-Barre based automobile warranty company. He must pay $128,677 in restitution.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Rhode Island Man Sentenced to 30 Months’ Imprisonment for Automobile Warranty Fraud Scheme” dated September 2, 2021.

SCRANTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Matthew Gershkoff, age 64, of North Providence, Rhode Island was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release by United States District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion, for conspiring to commit wire fraud, and for aggravated identity theft offenses. Judge Mannion also ordered Gershkoff to pay restitution of $385,352.19 to the victim of his crime.

According to Acting United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Gershkoff was convicted of preparing false invoices for nonexistent automobile repairs at multiple automobile repair shops located in Rhode Island and in Massachusetts, and for forging policy owners’ signatures.  The invoices were sent to and paid by an automobile warranty company in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  Gershkoff pleaded guilty on May 18, 2020, to causing between $250,000 and $550,000 of fraudulent loss to the Wilkes-Barre based automobile warranty company.

 

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.