Leeds, ND, Man Sentenced in a $11 Million Dollar Fraud Scheme
BISMARCK – United States Attorney Drew H. Wrigley announced that on November 12, 2019, US District Court Judge Daniel L. Hovland sentenced Hunter Brian Hanson, age 22, Leeds, ND, on charges of Wire Fraud and Money Laundering, to serve eight years imprisonment, serve a three year period of supervised release, and pay $11,103,309.19 in restitution. Additionally, Judge Hovland ordered that Hunter Hanson forfeit property, which constituted proceeds of the crime and ordered a $1,265,679.29 money judgment against him. Hanson previously pleaded guilty to these charges on July 30, 2019.
The charges and Hanson’s guilty plea stem from Hanson’s criminal acts committed from January 2018 to December 2018, during which time Hanson engaged in a scheme to defraud approximately sixty (60) farmers and elevators in North Dakota and Canada. As a result of Hanson’s fraud schemes, these approximately sixty (60) farmers and elevators suffered significant financial losses totaling approximately $11,103,309.19. Hunter Hanson fraudulently contracted with multiple farmers and grain elevators in an effort to deceitfully obtain grain or other agricultural commodities. Once Hanson fraudulently obtained these commodities, he either failed to pay the farmers and elevators, or in some instances, he sent farmers and elevators checks for which he did not have sufficient funds to cover.
Hunter Hanson, as part of this fraudulent scheme, maintained multiple bank accounts, engaged in check kiting to cover his deposits and withdrawals, illegally laundered money between his bank accounts and other businesses, and often did not have sufficient funds in his bank accounts when he remitted payments to farmers and elevators for money owed on the commodities purchasing contracts. When fraud victims became weary of Hanson’s business practices and non-payment, Hanson sent email communications to lull farmers, elevators, or brokers into a false sense of security, to postpone inquiries, or to make his transactions between the farmers, elevators, or brokers less suspect.
“Hunter Hanson’s criminal acts cost producers, elevators and brokers over 11 million dollars,” said United States Attorney Drew Wrigley. “These losses would be financially debilitating at any time, but they are back-breaking at such a challenging time for our critically important ag sector.”
Although the court ordered restitution of $11,103,309.19, investigators are still working to try to locate the proceeds that can be provided to the victims of Hanson’s crimes. “These devastating financial crimes harmed real people, and undermined generations of their family’s hard work, and the damages continue,” said United States Attorney Drew Wrigley, who added, “Hunter Hanson has displayed a heart of stone in committing these acts, and we will do everything possible to squeeze the proverbial blood from the stone and off-set the losses to the degree possible.”
The investigating agencies include: Federal Bureau of Investigation, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, North Dakota State and Local Intelligence Center, McLean County Sheriff’s Office and States Attorney’s Office, and Mountrail County Sheriff’s Office and States Attorney’s Office.
Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan J. O’Konek prosecuted the case.