A Brooklyn man allegedly cheated parents of abducted children out of thousands of dollars by claiming to have a record of finding missing kids around the world.
Peter Senese, the founder of the I CARE Foundation, falsely claimed to parents that he could rescue their abducted children and return them to the United States in exchange for his purported expenses for the rescue missions, the DOJ said.
Senese set up two websites claiming he was the founding director of a not-for-profit organization called the I CARE Foundation. He claimed on the sites to have a track record of recovering children who had been abducted and taken overseas.
“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 for Manhattan 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,” Bharara said.
Senese was arrested last week in Brooklyn, New York.
From 2013 until February this year, Senese told parents “he could recover their children from other countries by working with a team of former members of the U.S. Army component Delta Force, of which Senese claimed to have also been a member,” the DOJ said.
Senese was never in the military, prosecutors said.
He typically took $3,000 to $5,000 a month from parents to fund his “rescue missions,” the DOJ said.
He sent the parents of one child emails and text messages that he was in India or another “remote location,” the DOJ said. Some of his messages said the child would be returned in days or even hours, and that he needed more money to fund the rescue.
“In fact,” the DOJ said, “Senese has not traveled outside of the [United States] for years.”
“While Senese represented that he was in foreign locations, he was actually in Miami, Florida; New York, New York; or Los Angeles, California,” the DOJ said.
A copy of the criminal complaint against Senese is here (pdf).
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.