Bogus matchmaking site preyed on job seekers’ desperation

ROCKLIN — It was supposed to be just an easy part-time gig to tide over Rocklin’s newly married Derek Sherrard and Jaymie Sanfilippo between jobs.
But after a nightmarish whirlwind that included the couple’s arrest, its resulting publicity on several news sites, 12 hours of jail time and a near-prosecution on two separate felony charges, Sherrard, 24, said he and his 23-year-old bride learned valuable lessons about how diverse online scams can be.

Derek Sherrard and Jaymie Sanfilippo

Prosecutors decided Sept. 17 not to file charges of burglary and receiving stolen property against the newlyweds, more than two weeks after they were first arrested on suspicion of taking part in the electronic heist of nearly $30,000 from a Massachusetts business.
David Broady, the Placer County senior deputy district attorney who reviewed the case, said there simply wasn’t enough evidence to link Sherrard and Sanfilippo to a conspiracy that touched four states.
According to police interviews Broady cited and Sherrard’s own account, Sanfilippo accepted a job offer with what her husband called an “official-looking” online dating service called FairLove. Initially, Sherrard said his wife’s job was to copyedit letters supposedly sent by stateside clients looking to romantically connect with people overseas. For this, the couple received direct deposits into a new bank account they set up to manage wedding gifts.
After about two weeks, Sherrard said his wife was offered a different job — instead of correcting letters, Sanfilippo was asked to accept electronic transfers and eventually send the bulk of the deposits overseas through Western Union. This happened only once, back in June, with Sherrard saying the hassle was too great for a 5 percent commission. But once was enough to implicate the couple in an interstate bank theft.
The $9,589.23 police tracked to Sherrard and Sanfilippo’s Washington Mutual account made up slightly more than a third of the $28,000 siphoned from the bank account of Alarms of Berkshire County, an installer of security systems located in Pittsfield, Mass.
The stolen $28,000 was traced to three different bank accounts in three separate states, said Rocklin Lt. Juan Milka, “and one of them happened to be in Rocklin.”
Illicit deposits were also traced to banks in Lincoln, Nebraska and Bloomfield, Minnesota.
After identifying Sherrard and Sanfilippo’s bank account, Pittsfield authorities requested local assistance from Rocklin police in July.
Sherrard said he was shocked to find cops at his door the morning of Sept. 2.
“Obviously we didn’t know that the money was stolen, otherwise we wouldn’t do it,” he said.


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