New Jersey man convicted of $40m securities claims fraud


Date: October 27, 2022


PHILADELPHIA — United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Joseph Cammarata, of Monmouth Beach, NJ, was convicted after trial for his participation in a securities fraud claims scheme with two co-defendants from New York and New Jersey.

In November 2021, the defendant was charged by Superseding Indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud (Count One), wire fraud (Counts Two through Five), money laundering conspiracy (Count Six), and two counts of money laundering (Counts Eleven and Twelve), along with co-defendants David Punturieri, of Staten Island, NY, and Erik Cohen, of Manalapan, NJ. According to the Superseding Indictment, the defendants were the principals of Alpha Plus Recovery, a claims aggregator firm based in Old Bridge, New Jersey. Defendants Punturieri and Cohen previously pleaded guilty to similar charges.

As the evidence presented at trial showed, Cammarata and his co-defendants used Alpha Plus Recovery to make false and fraudulent claims, including claims made in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, to the proceeds of securities fraud class action, and SEC enforcement action, settlements. They falsely claimed that corporate clients of Alpha Plus Recovery had purchased shares of securities that were the subject of the lawsuits and enforcement actions. In reality, the clients, which were entities actually controlled by the defendants, had not purchased the subject securities. To substantiate the false claims, the defendants created fraudulent brokerage and other financial documents to provide to claims administrators. Cammarata and his co-defendants then transferred the fraudulently obtained funds into accounts they controlled, stealing a total of over $43 million between 2014 and 2021.

"A jury has found that Cammarata and his partners at Alpha Plus manipulated complicated financial transactions for years in order to steal over $40 million," said U.S. Attorney Romero. "They committed fraud on top of fraud, filing claims on behalf of clients that didn't exist and doctoring false financial documents to support those fraudulent claims, and their theft took money from the pockets of deserving claimants. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the investigators and prosecutors on this case, all three defendants have now been brought to justice."

"This conviction reflects IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents' continued resolve to investigate and prosecute those who violate federal fraud and money laundering laws," said Tammy Tomlins, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Newark Field Office. "IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to aggressively uncover and disrupt criminals who conspire to perpetrate sophisticated schemes to steal millions."

"Year after year, Joseph Cammarata and his partners stole millions from legitimate victim investors entitled to class action settlement funds," said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. "Cammarata used the funds to support his lavish lifestyle, including the use of private jets, the purchase of expensive homes, luxury cars, and yachts, and even the maintenance of a private island in The Bahamas. As investigators closed in, Cammarata doubled down on his lies in order to perpetuate the fraud. What Cammarata didn't know was that Special Agents from the FBI and Postal Inspectors were methodically building a case based on his emails and phone calls where he and his business partners conspired to lie to claims administrators. This conviction sends a message to all sophisticated white collar criminals that no one is beyond the reach of the FBI and our law enforcement partners."

"A jury in Philadelphia found Joseph Cammarata guilty of defrauding thousands of investors of settlement monies those investors were owed," said Raimundo Marerro, the Acting Inspector in Charge of the Philadelphia Division of the Postal Inspection Service. "Since 2014, Mr. Cammarata used the United States Mail system to submit fraudulent claims to settlement administrators and receive over $43 million in fraudulent payments from these settlement administrators. By doing so, he and his co-conspirators deprived legitimate claimants of monies they should have received. I want to thank the agents and prosecutors for their efforts following this case through trial and once again reminding people that stealing money through the U.S. Mail is a crime."

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Newark Field Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David J. Ignall and Paul G. Shapiro.