Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced today that a Georgia man who convinced a New Jersey couple to send him $86,000 to buy a recreational vehicle that he never delivered has been extradited to stand charges in Superior Court.
George M. Landry III, 67, of the first block of Tregoney Drive in Decatur, was charged with Theft by Deception (Second Degree) and Elements of Computer Theft (Second Degree). He was recently arrested in Georgia and brought to the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly. He is scheduled for a detention hearing on Friday in Superior Court. The case will then be prepared for presentation to a Burlington County grand jury.
The investigation began earlier this year after a New Jersey couple contacted law enforcement officials and indicated they believed they were the victims of a financial scam.
The investigation revealed that Landry approached the couple on social media and said he was an official with the Georgia Lottery Corporation and that they had won $2,000,000. He said that taxes and fees had to first be paid before they could receive the money. Landry is hearing impaired, as are his victims, and he used that commonality to gain their trust in order to perpetrate the fraud.
Landry learned that the couple planned to purchase a recreational vehicle, and convinced them that he could get a better deal in Georgia. He created a false sales receipt and in response the couple sent him $86,000. The scam depleted the couple’s savings, forcing them to live in various hotels throughout South Jersey.
“I strongly encourage anybody who is approached online or on social media by someone asking for money to be extremely skeptical, and to treat it as a scam unless it can be proven to be legitimate,” Prosecutor Coffina said. “Contact your local police department, our Office, or the state Division of Consumer Affairs if you have concerns about whether a proposition or opportunity you have received is above board.”
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Andrew R. McDonnell, supervisor of the Fraud Section of the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit. The investigation was conducted by the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit, with assistance from the Burlington County Sheriff’s Department and the DeKalb County (GA) Police Department – South Precinct Criminal Investigations Division. The lead investigator is BCPO Det. Nicholas Schieber.
All persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.