California Real Estate Developer Sentenced to Federal Prison for Using Stolen Identities to Obtain Covid-Relief Program Funds
EUGENE, Ore.—A Corvallis, Oregon man was sentenced to federal prison today for orchestrating an investment fraud scheme that falsely claimed to support various Christian missionaries and organizations.
Erik J. Hass, 53, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release. He was also ordered to pay more than $1.75 million in restitution to his victims.
According to court documents, in January 2013, Hass founded Simply Gains, Inc., an organization he claimed supported Christian missionaries and organizations while offering significant returns for investors. Hass solicited members of his church, coworkers, and other acquaintances to invest in the organization via self-directed retirement and cash accounts. In exchange, he gave investors unsecured promissory notes and promised compounded annual returns of up to 30%.
Hass also claimed he would only profit from the investment scheme if monthly returns were higher than 2%. Yet, from the start, Hass began taking a salary drawn from investors’ funds and used the proceeds to pay for personal expenses. Throughout the scheme, Hass sent investors account statements showing fictitious gains and account balances and false IRS 1099-INT forms.
Hass continued accepting investments well into 2018, knowing he could not honor his investment claims. Instead, these new investments were used to fund Ponzi payments to older investors who had requested withdrawals from their accounts. In total, at least 20 investors lost more than $1.75 million combined investing in Hass’ scheme.
On June 9, 2020, a federal grand jury in Eugene returned an 8-count indictment charging Hass with wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering. On February 21, 2023, he pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud.
This case was investigated by the FBI and Oregon Division of Financial Regulation. It was prosecuted by Gavin W. Bruce, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.