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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Electronic Grifter Sentenced To Three Years For Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme

            PHILADELPHIA – Paul Bauer, 55, of Dallas, TX, was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for a fraud conspiracy involving a scheme to steal approximately $4 million from a Venezuelan fishing company.  Bauer pleaded guilty on March 8, 2012 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.  In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Petrese Tucker ordered Bauer to pay restitution in the amount of $936,081, and ordered three years of supervised release.

The Venezuelan fishing company, Pinto-Spinelli Group (“PSG”), had arranged for funds to be deposited in a PSG bank account in Miami, Florida in order to pay a business debt.  PSG believed that Bauer and other co-conspirators would conduct a currency exchange and then deposit American dollars in PSG’s Miami bank account but, instead, the defendants transferred $4,000,000 of PSG’s funds to a bank account at Citizens Bank in Reading, Pennsylvania, controlled by a Bauer associate.  The multi-million dollar financial fraud had devastating consequences for the unsuspecting victim.  Using international wire transfers, Bauer and his conspirators were able to take the funds from the lawful owner almost instantaneously.  Bauer diverted the funds from Venezuela, through Panama and New York, to an innocuous appearing domestic bank account in Reading, Pennsylvania.  When Citizens Bank became suspicious, Bauer directed his associates to fabricate a letter to mislead Citizens Bank into releasing the funds.  Again, within hours of duping Citizens Bank into releasing the funds, Bauer had successfully diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars of stolen PSG funds to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, Germany and Spain. 

            When Bauer realized that law enforcement agents were investigating the case, he attempted to cover up his crime and mislead investigators with Homeland Security Investigations.  Bauer provided false exculpatory statements when interviewed and instructed his co-conspirators to provide false exculpatory information if questioned by the agents.  Fortunately, the investigating agents were not deterred by Bauer’s attempts to mislead them and ultimately were able to return more than $3 million of the stolen funds to the victim.

Bauer’s co-conspirators pleaded guilty and were each sentenced last year to five years of probation and restitution of $936,081.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank Labor.

Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
PATTY HARTMAN, Media Contact, 215-861-8525

Updated December 15, 2014