LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa.– A Chadds Ford man is facing charges after allegedly scamming victims in multiple states, including two in Lancaster.
Michael Salerno, 51, is facing numerous felony counts of deceptive and fraudulent business practices and theft by deception, among other related charges.
On December 10, police charged Salerno with defrauding two Lancaster County victims.
Police say that Salerno operated a fraud scheme called AccuOne Financial, Inc. out of Philadelphia.
The scheme involved illegally obtaining information from various vehicle lease solicitation websites, and then contact private citizens who were advertising their vehicles and the vehicle’s lease contract, according to authorities.
Salerno would use the contact information he took from a lease solicitation website, and convinced victims to turn over their leased vehicles to the AccuOne Financial scheme.
Police say that Salerno used the scheme to convince victims nationwide to sell their vehicle leases to him through a series of deceptive online advertisements, transactions and emails.
According to the police release, Salerno promised victims a compensation payment of $1500 for their vehicles, followed by an additional monthly compensation fee between $25 and $50. Then, he convinced the victims that AccuOne Financial would make monthly payments to the victims’ vehicle leasing company.
Salerno required that the victims maintain the vehicles’ registration and title, but had them cancel their vehicle insurance policies and promised that AccuOne Financial would insure the vehicles.
Once in possession of the victims’ vehicles, Salerno would advertise them on social media, and rent them out to interested persons, police say.
According to the police release, Salerno often missed payments to the leasing companies and never insured the vehicles.
When victims began to complain about the missed payments to the leasing companies and demand their vehicles back, Salerno would often cease contact with the victim or fabricate stories about AccuOne Financial having financial or computer issues.
Finally, after growing suspicious of AccuOne Financial, the victims contacted law enforcement.
The State Police Vehicle Fraud Investigations Unit became involved after the two victims in Lancaster County reported the lack of cooperation from AccuOne Financial.
Police found that in addition to the two victims in Lancaster, they were able to assist victims in Florida, New Jersey, and New York with recovering vehicles that were found throughout Pennsylvania.
On December 15, Salerno turned himself into police, and bail was set at $500,000.
He is currently incarcerated at Lancaster County Prison.