Lawsuit Targets Internet Scam Operators
Attorney General Spitzer today announced that his office obtained a restraining order against a Long Island man who operated several Internet scams that bilked consumers out of thousands of dollars.
Jeffrey A. Augugliaro of Malverne in Nassau County, was served with a lawsuit alleging that he and his associates set up an Internet-based business known as "People Helping People" which solicited donations for a phony charitable organization Augugliaro created called "American Cancer Aid Foundation." Donors were told that contributions to the organization would be used for cancer prevention research and that contributors would receive two free airline tickets, worth up to $1,600, that could be used to fly anywhere in the world.
The lawsuit charges that none of the money solicited was ever used for cancer research, but instead was pocketed by Augugliaro and his associates. Furthermore, there were no free airline tickets, and consumers received nothing for their donations.
Similar offers of free airline tickets were promoted on other websites operated by Augugliaro, which allegedly marketed the tickets to business owners as a way to attract new customers. The lawsuit claims that thousands of consumers were defrauded by these scams, including a cancer patient who hoped to use the free airline tickets to fly to a hospital for her cancer treatments.
In addition to the charity scam, Augugliaro created Brixdale, an Internet-based company, www.brixdale.com, that promoted a so-called "inverse mortgage" program. Consumers were promised that by allowing Brixdale to take control of the electronic transfers of their monthly mortgage payments, consumers could not only pay off an entire 30-year mortgage in full, but could also easily make a quarter of a million dollars, all in a matter of months. The lawsuit alleges that Brixdale is simply an illegal pyramid scheme, which survives by participants recruiting more and more participants, and that the promised economic benefits are never realized.
Pending a hearing on the lawsuit, the court barred Augugliaro and the other defendants from operating their businesses, ordered them to shut down their websites and froze approximately one million dollars in bank accounts held by the defendants. Through the lawsuit, Spitzer seeks to permanently shut down the businesses and websites, and require respondents to pay restitution to consumers, as well as penalties and costs.
Spitzer cautions consumers against signing up for offers on the Internet that seem too good to be true, or getting involved in schemes promising that the consumer can "get rich quick" in exchange for recruiting others to join the scheme.
Individuals seeking to file a complaint against any of Augugliaro’s companies are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s consumer help line at (800) 771-7755 or visit his web site at www.ag.ny.gov.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Victoria L. Safran under the supervision of Juan Merchan, Assistant Attorney General-In-Charge of the Nassau Regional Office.