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Hudson man charged with Super Bowl scam

Allegedly offered tickets on Internet

HUDSON -- Joshua Tomey moved away from Boston two summers ago, but he jumped at the chance to see his old team, the New England Patriots, take on the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl last month.

So he plunked down $4,200 for two tickets to the Feb. 6 game, he said.

But Tomey never made it.

That's because he was one of about 41 victims of a $255,000 Internet scam, in which federal prosecutors say that Michael R. Deppe, a 20-year-old from Hudson, conned people into paying for Super Bowl tickets he never planned to deliver.

''The bottom line is, this is somebody who really doesn't care about other people," said Tomey, 28, a hotel security manager who moved from Boston to Miami in August 2003.

Deppe was charged in US District Court yesterday with 12 counts of wire fraud and four counts of mail fraud in this and an earlier alleged Internet scheme.

Deppe could not be reached yesterday at his home. His attorney, Steven Rappaport, declined to comment.

In most cases, Deppe persuaded customers to buy tickets on eBay, the popular Internet site, according to the indictment. The money for the purchases initially went into the account of a partner, a reputable seller on the site.

The partner then gave the cash to Deppe, who was supposed to buy the tickets and send them to the customers, prosecutors say. But he allegedly never did.

The partner, identified in the indictment only as W.E., has not been charged.

Some of the customers even flew to Orlando, where Deppe was supposed to meet them with the tickets, prosecutors say. The Super Bowl was played in Jacksonville.

''Con men are using 21st century tools to commit fraud, and the US attorney's office is aggressively developing 21st century investigative strategies to stop them," US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said in a statement released yesterday.

No date has been set for Deppe's arraignment, according to Samantha Martin, Sullivan's spokeswoman. Deppe faces up to 20 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release; he also faces up to a $250,000 fine on each of the 16 counts.

Tomey said he was supposed to receive the tickets by FedEx on the Wednesday before the game. When the tickets didn't arrive that day or the next, he realized he would probably not make it to the kickoff.

''I felt bad for myself, I felt bad about the money, and mostly about not being able to see the Patriots play," Tomey said. ''I really felt bad about the Philadelphia fans who had waited so long to see a Super Bowl."

One of those fans was Jacob Schrader's father-in-law, a lifelong Philadelphia resident who had never seen a Super Bowl game. Schrader, 39, an equities trader in New York City, said he paid $7,900 for two tickets for his father-in-law and his brother-in-law.

''That money is somewhere," Schrader said in an interview, adding that he hopes Deppe will be forced to repay the money.

Yesterday's indictment incorporates several earlier federal charges. On Feb. 23, he was charged with eight counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud in a separate Internet scam in which he allegedly sold $115,000 worth of luxury goods but never delivered them.

In that scheme, prosecutors said, Deppe contacted customers by e-mail after finding their queries about merchandise on eBay. That indictment alleges that Deppe asked the customers to wire him money and promised to send them items such as Rolex watches, a plasma television, and sports memorabilia.

In some cases, Deppe allegedly sent packages to the customers at the wrong addresses. The packages contained things like balled up newspapers or old sports trading cards.

The first federal indictment replaced almost identical state charges filed in Worcester Superior Court in January 2004. Deppe, then 19, was released in that case after pledging not to use the Internet except for school work. He has said recently he was planning to attend Framingham State College.

He was arrested on a federal warrant in St. Augustine, Fla., on Feb. 4 in allegedly violating the conditions of his release. He was returned to Boston by federal marshals. On March 3, he was released from federal custody with a prohibition against having access to or using a computer for any purpose.

One of Deppe's alleged victims posted messages about him on the Internet earlier this year, seeking others who paid for but have not received items from him.

Brian Bell, 28, a pilot from South Carolina, said he received replies from more than 30 people. He said he had forwarded their names to postal inspectors.

Bell is named as one Deppe's customers. The indictments charge that Bell paid Deppe $17,600 for Rolex watches that Bell never received.

''I feel confident that justice will be served," Bell said. ''Mr. Deppe has to be held responsible for his fraudulent actions." Connie Paige can be reached at cpaige@globe.com.

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