A 23-year-old New Milford man and a 22-year-old Bergenfield man have been arrested on charges of conspiring in a wide-ranging fraud scheme that targeted an investment company, stole identities from individuals and used bogus credit cards in a high-end shopping spree across Bergen County, authorities said Monday.
Francis Montecillo of New Milford and Ronald Maliwanag of Bergenfield also are charged with possession of numerous types of drugs for distribution, according to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli.
Molinelli said the investigation started in August, when representatives of the NVE bank in New Milford reported what they suspected to be a type of activity known as automated clearing house fraud involving a company called Acorns Investing and Maliwanag, a customer of the bank.
ACH fraud, Molinelli said, is the illicit use of the banking industry’s Electronic Fund Transfer system to transfer illegally obtained funds from a victim to an account that can be accessed by the party involved in the theft.
In this case, the prosecutor added, Montecillo and Maliwanag conspired to steal more than $20,000 from Acorns, an online and cellphone app-based investment company, through the use of stolen identities, forged bank documents and illicit computer-based transfers.
While detectives from the New Milford Police and prosecutor’s White Collar Crimes Unit were involved in the investigation of the Acorn Investments case, Molinelli said, a separate incident was reported to detectives in Glen Rock, involving a local resident whose credit card information had been stolen.
In the Glen Rock case, the prosecutor added, someone had used the stolen information to obtain new credit cards that were used to purchase expensive watches, computers, designer clothing and other items at Bergen County-area stores and shopping malls.
The victim’s credit card also was used to pay for a visit to a local dentist, Molinelli said, adding that an investigation determined that the individual who needed the dental work — and who had made the illicit purchases — was Montecillo.
The arrests came separately on Friday, in New Milford and Bergenfield. Molinelli said.
He said that when Montecillo was arrested, he was found to be in possession of substances suspected to be marijuana, Xanax, steroids and cocaine, and Maliwanag was found to be in possession suspected Xanax, Adderall and MDMA, also known as “Molly.”