CAMDEN — A Franklinville man was arrested Thursday, Oct. 16 by federal agents of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for allegedly mailing fraudulent invoices got non-existent workbooks to more than 70,000 schools in the United States.
Robert S. Armstrong, 44, was charged with one count of mail fraud, authorities said.
According to documents filed in the case, Armstrong, in July, used commercial mail receiving agents to open mail boxes in Sewell and Las Vegas, Nev. under the name of his business, Scholastic School Supplies LLC.
Armstrong allegedly drafter fake invoices seeking payments of $647.50 for 50 math or language workbooks at $12,95 each, said authorities.
In order for the invoice to appear legitimate, Armstrong allegedly included a telephone number and a Federal Employer Identification Number for Scholastic School Supply, authorities said. The invoices also included International Standard Book Numbers, unique identifiers assigned to each book published in the United States.
All three numbers were phony — the telephone number was out of service, the FEIN did not exist and and the ISBNs were either non-existent or did not correspond to the workbooks listed on the invoices, authorities said.
Armstrong allegedly contracted with a legitimate bulk mailing company in Maine and had the phony invoices mailed to more than 73,000 schools. Each invoice included a payment enveloped readdressed to the company’s Sewell or Las Vegas address.
Many schools sent money to Scholastic School Supply. Armstrong allegedly opened at least eight bank accounts for that company, into which he deposited the checks from the victim schools. Seizure warrants for five of the accounts have confiscated $281,440.46 so far, and a pending warrant could recover an additional $45,232 from a sixth account.
The other two accounts were closed in September.
The charge of mail fraud could being a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine.
Aiding the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge David Bosch in Philadelphia, were: the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton; the Gloucester County Office of Consumer Protection, under the direction of Harold Spence, Director of Consumer Affairs; the Washington Township Police Department, under the direction of Raphael Muniz, Chief of Police; and the Franklin Township Police Department, under the direction of Mike Rock, Chief of Police.