|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that the operator of a Maplewood debt adjustment firm called TGC Movement was arrested today for allegedly defrauding customers by promising them big reductions in their monthly bills in return for upfront fees, but never delivering any debt relief.
Germaine Theodore, 33, of Maplewood, surrendered to authorities today on a complaint-warrant filed by the Maplewood Police Department charging a single count of theft by deception. Theodore surrendered to members of the Division of Criminal Justice at the Essex County Courthouse. He was transported to the Maplewood Police Department Headquarters, where he was processed on the charge. He was lodged in the Essex County Jail with bail set at $250,000.
The Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau has taken charge of the criminal investigation into the alleged fraudulent business practices of Theodore and TGC Movement. The Attorney General’s Office commenced a civil investigation last month through the Division of Consumer Affairs after receiving complaints from customers of TGC Movement. The Division of Consumer Affairs subsequently referred the matter to the Division of Criminal Justice for a criminal investigation.
“Our investigation is ongoing, and we urge any additional customers who believe they were defrauded by Theodore or his firm to contact us confidentially,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman.
It is alleged that Theodore ran TGC Movement and held himself out as a financial advisor/debt adjustor. He allegedly advised customers that he could reduce their monthly bills by as much as 35 percent in return for fees that ranged from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Theodore claimed he could provide customers with “government grant money” to reduce their debt. It is alleged that Theodore collected the fees up front, but never did anything to reduce the debt or monthly bills of his customers.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Maplewood Police Department for their assistance in the investigation. The charge against Theodore is merely an accusation and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Members of the public can contact the Division of Criminal Justice confidentially at its toll-free tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ.