NEWARK, N.J. – A Connecticut woman was arrested today and charged with engaging in a scheme to divert more than approximately $540,000 in payments owed to her former employers by using an unauthorized PayPal account to misappropriate the funds for personal use, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced today.
Melissa Corso, 50, of Groton, Connecticut, is charged by complaint with two counts of wire fraud. She made her initial appearance today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, prior to her transfer to the District of New Jersey.
According to the complaint:
From February 2013 through July 2019, Corso misappropriated approximately $540,000 in customer payments owed to her former employers by directing their customers to submit their payments to a PayPal account linked to Corso’s work email address, which Corso had access to and control over. Corso sent one-time payment links to certain customers via her work email account with instructions to submit payment to her PayPal account, which was not authorized to receive these payments.
In total, Corso caused the victim companies’ customers to pay over approximately $3.1 million of funds due to the companies into her PayPal account through approximately 1,150 transactions. Using her work email address, Corso made multiple withdrawals from the PayPal account and diverted the funds to other PayPal accounts linked to personal email accounts of Corso and two other individuals, as well as to various commercial retailers, including eBay; Bloomingdale’s; Best Buy; Dick’s Sporting Goods; GrubHub; Forever 21; Louis Vuitton; MAC Cosmetics; and Target. A number of purchases from these commercial retailers were shipped to the home or work addresses of Corso and the two individuals.
To hide the fact that significant portions of customer payments were being fraudulently diverted for personal use, Corso doctored the victim companies’ internal records, including customer statements prepared by Corso that falsely showed that customer payments were applied correctly (i.e., in their entirety), when portions of those payments had actually been misapplied by Corso. She was able to perpetuate the fraud in this manner for years based on her role and responsibilities for coordinating the collection of customer payments and applying payments to customer invoices.
Each charge of wire fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross amount of gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer S. Kozar of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.