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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 26, 2019

Florida Man Indicted for Wire Fraud and International Money Laundering in Connection with an Investment Fraud Scheme Involving Baton Rouge Area Victims

A federal grand jury recently returned a four-count indictment charging Wallace Byers, age 59, of Miami, Florida, with wire fraud and international money laundering.  Byers appeared for his arraignment in court today and pled not guilty to the pending charges. 

According to the indictment, Byers identified potential victims through social networking websites, commercial services that provided investor leads, and documents that identified the victims of other schemes.  The indictment alleges that Byers solicited victims to invest with his company, WBI Associates, LLC, through phone calls, text messages, and email, and promised victims that the money would be invested, variously, in gold production, a lottery company, foreign currency, or “dark pools” or “blind pools.”  The indictment further alleges that instead of investing the money sent to him by victims as promised, Byers spent the money on personal expenditures, including among others, approximately $10,000 per month in rent for his residence in a Miami hotel, the lease of luxury cars, including a Ferrari, and gambling in casinos.  The indictment alleges that Byers received at least $6,888,000 as a result of his scheme.  According to the indictment, two of Byers’ victims lived in the Middle District of Louisiana, one in Baton Rouge and one in Baker.

In addition to charging Byers with wire fraud, the indictment charges Byers with engaging in international money laundering, by sending $3,000,000 to a Swiss bank account, in order to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership and control of the proceeds of the wire fraud scheme. 

U.S. Attorney Brandon J. Fremin stated, “This indictment demonstrates how con artists can prey on our citizens with persuasive lies and false documents. We remain focused on prosecuting the criminals who target our community with financial scams and abuse.  Citizens always should be wary of callers who promise large financial returns, and should contact law enforcement if they believe that they have fallen victim to one of these scams.  I appreciate the hard work by all those involved in this important matter.”

Eric Rommal, FBI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge, stated "The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue those who prey on our elderly citizens through investment scams and other complex financial crimes."

This matter is being investigated by the Baton Rouge Resident Agency of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth E. White, who also serves as the Elder Justice Coordinator for the Middle District of Louisiana.  The Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative aims to combat elder financial exploitation by expanding efforts to investigate and prosecute financial scams that target seniors; educate older adults on how to identify scams and avoid becoming victims of financial fraud; and promote greater coordination with law enforcement partners. For more information please visit: https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice.

NOTE: An indictment is an accusation by a grand jury.  The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless adjudicated guilty at trial or through a guilty plea. 

Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Updated April 26, 2019