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Feds bust a Rochester NY pawn shop scam based on stolen goods

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“…knowingly purchased stolen, new-in-box items from serial shoplifters”

From the United States Attorney,


ROCHESTER, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Mark Remein, 41, and Derek Verna, 44, both of Rochester, NY, were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with committing and conspiring to commit wire fraud, interstate transportation and sale of stolen property, and money laundering. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan K. McGuire, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, Remein and Verna owned and/or operated West Ridge Connections, a pawn shop located on West Ridge Road in Rochester. Remein and Verna knowingly purchased stolen, new-in-box items from serial shoplifters for a fraction (approximately 30%) of the items’ retail value. Remein and Verna listed the items for sale on eBay and shipped them to buyers. The items were listed as “New” and priced below retail value. In total, between January 2020, and August 16, 2023, Remein and Verna purchased and re-sold on eBay approximately 8,100 “New” items and received approximately $497,842 for those sales. The money was deposited into bank accounts that were opened in the name of third parties to avoid detection.  

The investigation began in February 2022, after law enforcement received a complaint from Home Depot security personnel, who had followed a shoplifter from a Home Depot location to West Ridge Connections with recently stolen merchandise. A store  security manager entered West Ridge Connections and observed the stolen merchandise behind a table counter. None of the stolen merchandise was entered into LeadsOnline, an online database where secondhand dealers, like Remein and Verna, are required to report all purchases from other individuals. The investigation determined that individuals sold new-in-box items to West Ridge Connections on a regular basis. Some of the sellers were admitted opioid users, whom law enforcement observed attempting to buy drugs immediately after they sold new-in-box items to West Ridge Connections.

In December 2022, investigators made a controlled sale of three, new-in-box Google Nest thermostats to defendant Verna at West Ridge Connections. The combined retail value of the items was approximately $567.00. Verna paid $100.00 for all three items before listing them on eBay for $124.99 each. Between January and August of 2023, investigators conducted a total of 15 controlled sales, which included 37 items.

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Thomas Fattorusso, Special Agent-in-Charge, and the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief David Smith.

 The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.      

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