Jury Convicts Businessman of $1.4 Million Fraud Conspiracy
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal jury convicted a North Carolina man late yesterday on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud for his role in orchestrating a scheme that caused over $1.4 million in losses to multiple victims.
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Anthony Eric Mitchell, 52, of Charlotte, was one of the two managing principals of a company called Aura Exchange LLC (AURA). Mitchell and his co-conspirator Armando Almirall, through AURA, promised their clients that they could help obtain funding for a host of business purposes, such as real estate transactions and television projects. Instead, Mitchell and Almirall spent large portions of their clients’ funds on personal expenses, including trips to casinos, concert tickets, stays at beach resorts, cash withdrawals and wire transfers.
In order to induce the victims to provide AURA with money, Mitchell and Almirall made a host of fraudulent misrepresentations, including representing to clients that they were guaranteed to receive their initial equity deposits back when, in fact, none of the victims ever received any money from AURA. Mitchell and Almirall claimed that AURA had offices in Zurich, London, and New York when no such offices existed. Mitchell also claimed to victims and their associates that AURA was a widely-successful global company that was backed by the assets of billionaires when, in reality, AURA had never closed a deal for a single client.
Mitchell and Almirall also maintained a website for AURA that contained a number of misrepresentations, including claims that AURA was an industry leader in a number of fields, that AURA was an international business with access to hundreds of financiers, and that AURA could turn around funding to its clients in as little as 24 hours. AURA never made any money for any of its clients, and in fact, victims of the fraud suffered losses of at least $1.6 million.
Mitchell’s business partner and co-conspirator, Armando Almirall, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was sentenced to 63 months in prison in February.
Mitchell faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of conviction when sentenced on Jan. 3, 2020. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Timothy M. Dunham, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga accepted the verdict. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamar K. Walker and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:19-cr-101.