Las Vegas Man Sentenced To Prison For $12 Million Advance Fee Telemarketing Scheme Targeting Small Business Owners
LAS VEGAS – A Las Vegas resident was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson to 78 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for defrauding hundreds of small business owners – many of them elderly – of about $12 million.
Michael Jones (43) pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud. In addition to the prison term, Jones was ordered to pay restitution in the total amount of $11,509,087.67 to the victims, and a forfeiture money judgment in the total amount of $7,934,095.32.
According to court documents, from October 2009 to February 2014, Jones and his co-defendants convinced more than 2,100 small business owners to pay nearly $12 million for what Jones and his co-defendants described as advance fees to fund expenses to apply for supposed government, private and charitable grants for the victims’ businesses. Following a script, Jones and others would falsely tell the victims that government, private and charitable organizations would provide grants to them regardless of the type of business they operated, but the victim first needed to pay thousands of dollars in fees to access those grants. Jones and his co-defendants induced the small business owners to give them money in exchange for services that were never provided. The scheme functioned solely to enrich Jones and his co-defendants.
United States Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Spencer L. Evans for the FBI made the announcement.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Cowhig prosecuted the case.