Computer salesman charged with fraud

Analyst accused of bogus iPad sales

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Joseph Graziano Jr. had a fancy job title and a Downtown condominium, but now faces charges that he made tens of thousands of dollars by selling phantom computers.

Mr. Graziano, 28, who is a senior financial analyst at Education Management Corp., faces federal mail fraud charges that were unsealed Wednesday. U.S. Postal Inspectors accused him of selling people Apple iPads and MacBooks through his eBay account, taking their payments and sending only empty boxes.

Mr. Graziano committed the fraud from around April through August, a postal inspector alleges in an affidavit filed in the case. Users of the site ordered some two dozen items from him for $35,810 from June 19 through July 5 alone, according to the affidavit.

"When the buyers received and opened the packages mailed to them by Graziano Jr., the products purchased on eBay were not inside," the inspector wrote.

Naturally, the inspector wrote, buyers wrote to Mr. Graziano asking what had happened.

"Graziano Jr. claimed that the U.S.P.S. had stolen the items during shipping," according to the affidavit. He told some buyers that "a bad [postal] employee ... started this whole mess," the inspector wrote.

According to the affidavit, he sometimes festooned the empty boxes with stickers reading: "This parcel has been inspected as part of a random screening. If anything has been disturbed, please contact us." Buyers then complained to the Postal Service.

His eBay account listed the fictitious company name James Kerns Auctions and a fake California driver's license number, the inspector wrote.

According to the affidavit, Mr. Graziano conducted some of the communications from his condominium, which county records say he bought for $211,000. He also used EDMC's computers, according to the affidavit.

An EDMC spokesman said the company is cooperating with the authorities and has placed Mr. Graziano on unpaid leave, and would provide no information on his past job duties.

Mr. Graziano has waived his preliminary hearing. U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen Kelly barred him from selling goods or services online while awaiting prosecution.

Mr. Graziano could not be reached for comment.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or on Twitter @richelord.


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