A man who scammed parents of international kidnapping victims by telling them he could find their children in exchange for payments to his non-profit was sentenced to 36 months in prison yesterday, according to an announcement from the acting U.S. Attorney.
Peter Senese, a 51-year-old Brooklyn man, had pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, for running a scheme from November 2013 to February 2015 in which he told parents that he could find their kidnapped children in exchange for donations to his non-profit called the I CARE Foundation. Senese claimed that I CARE had a slew of investigatory and legal resources working at its behalf, as well as former members of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force at his disposal.
In one instance, Senese took over $70,000 from one parent whose child was missing in India, appeared on a radio show with the parent and sent them a series of texts claiming he was in a remote part of India while never having left the country, and never actually helped secure the return of the child. He pulled a similar scam on a Queens parent but only got $5,000 out of them before a lawyer got involved. In addition to his scams relating to child kidnapping, Senese had done time in jail for writing bad checks to pay for a hot-air balloon wedding, was accused of scamming writers for a nonexistent TV show he claimed to be producing, and falsely testified as an expert in child kidnapping during hearings on a child kidnapping bill in Florida.
“In this most cruel and heartbreaking criminal scheme, Peter Senese preyed on the most vulnerable and desperate victims, anguished parents of abducted children. Senese did more than just steal his victims’ money—he robbed them of hope,” acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim said in a statement following the sentencing.