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Press Release

Shaker Heights man sentenced to three years in prison for defrauding investor out of $287,000

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

A Shaker Heights man was sentenced to three years in prison for defrauding an investor out of more than $287,000.

James M. Unger, 51, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and five counts of filing false tax returns.

Unger worked as a securities broker and investment advisor who provided financial advice to clients. Between 2006 and 2014, Unger devised a scheme to defraud an investor identified in court documents as E.C., according to court documents.

E.C. executed a durable power of attorney in 2007, which gave Unger control of her financial affairs. A few months later, Unger convinced E.C. to invest in a high-risk international casino project based on Unger’s assurances that it was a safe, lucrative investment opportunity. Unger and others provided E.C. with promissory notes guaranteeing a 15 percent annual rate of return, according to court documents.

E.C. invested approximately $407,000 in the project between 2008 and 2009. By 2012, Unger had wired money from E.C.’s bank account, without her knowledge or consent, to another client. He converted her investment to stock in a new company and convinced E.C. to invest an additional $79,985, according to court documents.

In 2014, E.C. told Unger she wanted to liquidate her investment in the casino project. She believed her investment, including earnings, totaled approximately $1.9 million, but her total investment was actually lost, according to court documents.

Unger had actually embezzled funds from E.C.’s bank accounts to enrich himself and pay for his own personal expenses, including pay his daughter’s college expenses, according to court documents.

In total, Unger embezzled approximately $287,464 from E.C. He also failed to claim some of this income on his tax returns between 2011 and 2015, according to court documents.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert J. Patton and Alejandro A. Abreu following an investigation by the FBI and IRS – Criminal Investigations. 


Mike Tobin

Updated June 28, 2018

Financial Fraud