A 38-year-old Rhode Island man is accused of defrauding a Massachusetts nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs, according to police who say he bought 142 Apple laptops as an employee and stole most of them.
Jonathan Alexander Mateo, of Riverside, R.I., is facing charges for defrauding MassChallenge, and he’s expected to appear in court this month for the computer theft scheme, Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden announced on Monday.
While working at MassChallenge between October 2020 and September 2022, Mateo allegedly purchased 142 Apple laptops using the organization’s American Express card.
When MassChallenge conducted an audit in March, the nonprofit could only account for 24 of the computers. MassChallenge then tried to contact Mateo, who had left the nonprofit, and they couldn’t connect with him.
The value of the missing computers is estimated at over $100,000.
Suffolk DA investigators are looking into the possibility that Mateo used proceeds from the alleged MassChallenge thefts to pay restitution for a similar scheme in Rhode Island.
Back in 2019, Mateo as an employee of Upserve, Inc. in Providence used that company’s credit card to purchase multiple Apple computers. An investigation later revealed that Mateo sold at least one of the computers on eBay. Mateo pleaded guilty to embezzlement, fraudulent use of credit cards, and larceny over $1,500 in that case.
“This individual apparently had the impression that the absence of more than 100 Apple laptops would somehow go unnoticed,” Hayden said in a statement.
“Like most others who attempt such schemes, he found out just how wrong he was,” the DA added. “He deserves to be brought to justice for his brazenness, particularly as it targeted a non-profit that does great work for entrepreneurs across Massachusetts.”
Mateo has been on personal recognizance since being arraigned at South Boston BMC in July on a charge of larceny over $1,200. Mateo is expected to return to court on Sept. 20 for a pre-trial hearing.