Repeat fraudster sentenced to 5 years for lost pet scam

Eric Stein netted $500,000 by selling fraudulent distributorships of his “Return-A-Pet” business

A repeat con man is headed back to prison for running a $500,000 investment scam that targeted owners of missing pets.

Between June 2007 and January 2010, Eric Stein sold distributorships of his “Return-A-Pet” business, a service that purportedly recovered missing pets using traceable ID tags. Dozens of investors paid between $5,000 and $50,000 each for these distributorships, only to realize that the business was a sham when Stein failed to deliver the promised pet tags and marketing materials.

The phony entrepreneur was arrested in January, and pled guilty to two counts of fraud. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum sentenced him to five years and three months in prison, and ordered him to return $528,000 to his victims.

Stein should feel right at home behind bars—he perpetrated his most recent fraud while on supervised release for an earlier $34 million investment scam. In that scheme, he convinced victims to invest in late-night television commercials for bogus products including water-filled dumbbells and “Xmas Tree Alarm” smoke detectors. He was sentenced to eight years in prison on 73 charges including securities fraud and money laundering.

“It was not Eric Stein’s first investment fraud scheme,” said Manhattan U.S. attorney Preet Bharara, according to the Wall Street Journal, “but with today’s sentence, it will hopefully be his last.”

Alanna Byrne

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