Federal Jury Convicts Four Individuals For International Fraud And Money Laundering Scheme Involving Sale Of Gold
Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that a federal jury yesterday found Naadir Cassim (40, Barcelona, Spain and Orlando, FL), Jon Craig Nelson (69, Houston, TX), Michael Skillern (49, Houston, TX), and Adriana Maria Camargo, a/k/a Adriana Palomino (37, Barcelona, Spain) guilty of conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and mail fraud. Each faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison on the conspiracy count, 20 years’ imprisonment on the money laundering conspiracy count, and 20 years in prison for each mail fraud count. Cassim, Nelson, and Skillern were also convicted of wire fraud charges, and face up to 20 years in federal prison for each charge. Additionally, the jury found Cassim guilty of an illegal monetary transaction charge that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment. The sentencing hearing has been set for May 24, 2016.
The individuals were indicted on February 18, 2014.
According to evidence presented at trial, from August 2011 through February 2014, Cassim, Nelson, Skillern, and Camargo, along with others, engaged in a fraud scheme where they directed and caused the sale of purported but nonexistent gold ore or gold doré from mines owned or controlled by them, through a company called OWN GOLD, LLC. The conspirators’ victims were located both inside and outside of the United States, including the United Kingdom. To facilitate the scheme, the conspirators paid telemarketers to place unsolicited calls to potential and existing victims outside the United States. The conspirators used the victims' funds to perpetuate the scheme and for their own personal enrichment. During the course of the fraud scheme, approximately 440 victims wired more than $7.3 million to the conspirators.
“The defendants defrauded more than 400 victims and collected more than $7 million through an elaborate scheme to sell nonexistent gold ore and gold doré,” said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. “Entrusted with a unique international authority and assisted by the efforts of our foreign law enforcement partners, HSI dismantled this transnational criminal organization.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Secret Service, with assistance from law enforcement partners in the United Kingdom, Spain and Cyprus, and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance in the extradition and mutual legal assistance requests in this case. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sara C. Sweeney and Rachelle DesVaux Bedke.