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Press Release

Arizona Man Sentenced for Role in Investment Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maine

PORTLAND, Maine: An Arizona man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Portland for conspiring to commit wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Darcie N. McElwee announced.

U.S. District Judge John A. Woodcock, Jr., sentenced Arthur Merson, 68, of Scottsdale, Arizona to 15 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Merson was also ordered to pay over $3.4 million in restitution to victims. He pleaded guilty on January 24, 2022.

According to court records, in 2017 and 2018, Merson participated in a scheme to defraud involving investments in Standby Letters of Credit (SBLCs). Investors were promised that they could receive a portion of the value of an SBLC, worth millions of dollars, for a much smaller initial investment. Investors were promised returns equal to many times the amounts of their initial investments in a matter of weeks. They were also promised that their money would remain in the attorney trust account of a co-conspirator—who at the time was a licensed attorney in Florida—until confirmation was received that the SBLC had been issued.

In his role as an intermediary between investors and the principal members of the conspiracy, Merson falsely represented to investors that the investment was not risky and that he had been involved in similar successful deals in the past. He also falsely represented that he was an independent consultant who was only going to receive a small finder’s fee, and claimed not to know the details of the transaction or the payouts the clients could expect. In fact, he had a significant independent financial interest in the investment transaction that he affirmatively misled investors about as he responded to investor inquiries.

Two co-defendants, Russell Hearld and Christopher Ochoa, were both sentenced to 29 months in prison on January 24, 2022, and February 11, 2022, respectively.

The FBI investigated the case.  

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Craig M. Wolff
Assistant United States Attorney
Tel: (207) 780-3257

Updated August 3, 2022

Financial Fraud