Online scammer sent empty boxes to victims

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

Joe Graziano Jr. was a high-ranking bank administrator who lived a life of fancy cars, expensive watches and casino tabs -- even though his tax returns claimed he made around $8,000 a year.

"He embezzled approximately $2.5 million from that bank," said U.S. Postal Inspector Dave Gealey.

While Graziano worked as a corporate trust administrator, inspectors said he shifted money from his bank's customers into accounts he controlled at another bank. Officials said he would play a constant financial shell game by persuading banks to lend him money by leveraging fancy cars and using false bank balances and doctored tax returns.


 
But, one scam wasn't enough. Graziano then decided to start selling high-tech equipment online.

"He was putting iMac computers, high-end computers for I believe he was selling them for a lot cheaper than you can buy them for at a retail store," said Gealey.

Once he was paid, he would mail out boxes using a "Click and Ship" account. But there was a catch.

"Customers would receive them, and of course they would open them up and it's totally empty," explained Gealey.

Customers would contact Graziano to complain.

"He would just claim that, 'Well, what are you talking about? You can see on the 'Click and Ship' label it was 5 pounds when I sent it -- it had to be in there. Is there anything on the box?'" Gealey explained.

Twenty-four victims lost more than $30,000. Postal inspectors quickly got involved and found Graziano was putting fake stickers on the boxes indicating weight and confirmation.

"As inspectors we need a federal search warrant for probable cause to open these packages, so at no point does a postal employee just randomly open a box to see what is inside. Does not happen. We don't have any stickers," said Gealey.

Graziano was indicted on bank fraud and mail fraud charges. He has since pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in May.

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