Haverhill and Groveland Residents Part of Alleged Fraud
Six local people were arraigned Wednesday in Haverhill District Court on numerous counts of larceny, money laundering and fraud following a three-month investigation involving local, state and federal authorities into a false invoice scheme.
Susan Yerdon, 47; Vito Milone, 34; Sean Yerdon, 24; and Jennifer Madore, 28, all of Groveland, and Michael Whitcomb, 54, of Haverhill, and Dennis Lopez, 61, of Methuen, were arraigned Wednesday on charges of larceny, identity theft, money laundering, false statements concerning corporate entity, false claim to government agency, procurement fraud and conspiracy, according to Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office.
Haverhilll District Court Judge Stephen Abany ordered Yerdon and Whitcomb held on $100,000. Lopez was held on $25,000 and Yerdon and Madore were released on personal recognizance.
Essex Assistant District Attorney Philip Mallard told the court that the investigation began last October, when Haverhill Police received a report from a Texas-based factoring company that it had been defrauded of approximately $100,000.
“Factoring” is a type of financing arrangement in which a business sells its accounts receivable (invoices) to a third party (the factor) at a discount. The factor pays a percentage of the face value of the invoice to the business and collects the full amount from the customer in due course. The factor then pays the balance to the business minus the factor’s commission and other fees, according to a spokesperson.
The Texas-based company reported that they had advanced money to a company named Pro Force Staffing owned by an Andover man. But when the company attempted to collect the money owed on the invoices, it learned that the customers did not exist and Pro Force Staffing also disappeared.
“Haverhill and Andover Police determined that the Andover man not only had no connection to the company that was opened in his name, but also that he was a victim of identity theft. As a result, Essex District Attorney’s Office launched a regional investigation into this fraud ring,” a spokesperson said.
Over the past three months, state police assigned to the District Attorney’s Office, in coordination with detectives of the Haverhill, Andover, Methuen and Groveland police departments and special agents with the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted an extensive investigation.
In addition to the alleged factoring fraud, the investigation found that Lopez allegedly fraudulently misstated his income as being solely Social Security Disability Insurance and received Section 8 housing as a result.
In coordination with the six arrest warrants, five search warrants were executed last Friday. Two of the search warrants pertained to the searches of Methuen and Groveland locations associated with this scheme. Three of the search warrants seized five motor vehicles that were purchased with funds stolen and laundered through this scheme under the forfeiture powers provided under the money laundering statute. Those vehicles include a Mercedes Benz E Class AMG, a GMC Yukon Denali, a BMW 328I, a Cadillac DTS, and a Pontiac Solstice.
All of the defendants are scheduled to return to court on March 4, for a pre-trial conference.