Husband and wife Philip Pestrichello and Rosalie Florie apparently had a dream about helping folks make money. So, in June 2007 this entrepreneurial couple started a company that would permit you to earn income from the comfort of your home. To further their enterprise, they set up several companies:
While a prodigious undertaking, it's far too many names to deal with in this blog, so I'm just going to refer to the whole shebang as "PPSN." PPSN was marketed to the public through the mail, Internet, and classified print advertisements that promised a weekly paycheck for merely labeling postcards advertising a "Mortgage Accelerator Program." For such a menial task, you were promised $1 for each labeled postcard. And the cost to you for this fabulous opportunity? Why a pittance: an up-front enrollment fee of $80 to $90, with the option of rush shipping materials for an additional $10 to $15.
Some among you, and you know who you are, are likely rolling your eyes about PPSN. Tsk, tsk. Such cynics among us! You might be shocked to learn that PPSN promised a "100% Satisfaction Policy" guaranteeing a full refund if you were unhappy. Would scam artists "promise" and "guarantee" a full refund? I think not. To their credit, Pestrichello and Florie likely anticipated some skepticism about their wonderful work-at-home opportunity and preempted the negativity through advertisements such as this:
Rest assured, this is NOT a gimmick or some shady 'get rich quick scheme.' Our company has a rock-solid reputation. . . . As one of our Home Based Associates you could earn $1.00 (one-dollar) for each Postcard you process and we conveniently offer you weekly compensation directly by Company Check each Friday.
Now don't you feel stupid with all your doubts and suspicions? A couple of honest folks just trying to spread the wealth around and they have to deal with all of you nay-sayers.
Of course, there's this: After sending in their payments to PPSN, the majority of consumers received no income, or only a small portion of the promised sums. Even the one-time enrollment fee wasn't all that it was cracked up to be as consumers were asked for additional fees to remain in the program. But, like, you know, let's be fair here. Enrolling in something isn't the same as staying in it. And if PPSN didn't quite make the staying-in-our-program fee clear up front, well, that was just an inadvertent oversight.
Also, there was that surprise $40 additional fee for 100 postcards - and you better have returned those labeled within five days or risk payment delay. Some intrepid souls apparently tried to game the system and sent in additional payments for multiple batches of postcards, hoping to label them and quickly return hundreds for the promise reward. Unfortunately, by the time that these industrious work-at-homers sent in a few hundred dollars in postcard purchase fees, they realized that none of the promised paychecks were even in the mail. Folks complained. Surprisingly - or not - PPSN either let the phone ring or allowed the letters to sit unanswered, or if a reply was forthcoming, it was likely to consist of admonishing consumers that they had bought in to a commission program that only paid when the postcards generated a sale of the mortgage accelerator product. Of course, there was that minor detail that I don't think the good folks at PPSN told the consumers: the Mortgage Accelerator Program was likely a sham of a non-existent product.
But Bill, you might interrupt, what's the big deal? PPSN guaranteed a 100% refund to unhappy investors. Alas, such refunds only seemed to have been sent after someone complained to a law enforcement authority.
But Bill, you might interrupt again (and maybe you could let me get through this without a lot more interruptions?), what idiots would invest in this nonsense anyway? To which I would reply that bank records show that PPSN received more than a million dollars. I'm guessing that a few thousand small fry bit on the bait. Likely many of those sending in payments were desperate for income and could ill afford being scammed.
Then there is this whole other frustrating aspect of this story - the one that I was trying to get to amid all of your interruptions. Starting in 1992, Mr. Pestrichello was the subject of numerous enforcement actions by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, the Office of the Attorney General in the State of Florida, and the Federal Trade Commission, in connection with his operation of deceptive work-at-home schemes and other consumer frauds. Such legal actions resulted in permanent injunctions barring Pestrichello from engaging in the type of conduct and business as was PPSN. Pointedly, in 2003, Pestrichello was convicted of mail fraud, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, in United States v. Pestrichello, 03 Cr. 667 (GEL), in connection with the marketing and sale of a work-at-home scheme under the business name "IMXT & Co." He was sentenced to 36 months' incarceration in that case.
Oh, one other thing - and do me a favor, sit down for this last shot.
You sitting? Pestrichello operated PPSN, while on supervised release from prison.
On February 3, 2010, Preet Bharara,the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the filing of charges against Pestrichello and Florie for one coun tof mail fraud. If convicted on these charges, they face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/February10/pestrichelloandfloriearrestspr.pdf