COLUMBUS, Ohio – A New Jersey man who is alleged to have fled to Turkey has returned to the United States and pleaded guilty to his role in a nationwide, off-the-road tire sale fraud scheme that resulted in tens of millions of dollars of losses.
Ahmet Neidik, 64, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit wire fraud.
Neidik was the co-owner of, and ran the daily operations for, transportation, logistics and importing/exporting businesses. Some of the proceeds of the scheme were sent to businesses controlled by Neidik. Neidik would then wire money to the bank accounts of co-conspirators.
It is alleged that John K. Eckerd, Jr., 58, of Dallas, is the leader of the multi-state conspiracy.
Conspiring with previously convicted and sentenced defendant Jason E. Adkins, 46, of Jackson, Ohio, Eckerd and others orchestrated a $50 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 50 investors.
According to Eckerd’s indictment, from 2012 until at least in or around late 2018, Eckerd represented himself to potential investors as an entrepreneur and businessman with expertise in the market for off-the-road tires. Off-the-road tires are over-sized tires that are used on earth moving equipment and/or mining equipment. Eckerd had control of or access to many corporations allegedly used as part of the scheme.
Co-conspirators allegedly solicited millions of dollars from investor-victims under false pretenses. Investors were told their money would be used to buy off-the-road tires at a steep discount, and that the tires would then be re-sold to a buyer at a much higher rate. Investors were promised a high percent rate of return on investment, generally within 180 days.
It is alleged defendants rarely bought or sold tires, and when they did, they used the same tires as the basis for multiple deals, promising multiple investors that they each owned the same tires.
Defendants corresponded with the potential investors face-to-face, as well as through a combination of phone calls, text messages, and, on occasion, emails. It is alleged they used private planes to showcase their inventory and appear wealthy and successful. Defendants also allegedly provided investors with elaborate, fraudulent paperwork regarding the purported deals. The co-conspirators requested large investments and loans, most to be funded through wire transfers.
With his guilty plea, Neidik admitted to participating in the scheme. To give potential investors confidence in the tire deals, Eckerd and Adkins offered the services of a purportedly neutral third party to arrange shipment of the tires and/or hold investment funds in escrow until certain conditions were met in completing the deal. Neidik allowed Eckerd and Adkins to represent to investors that he was the neutral third party, and on some occasions, entered into escrow agreements with the investors.
As part of his plea, Neidik has agreed to pay $370,000 in restitution for his part of the scheme.
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation; and J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, announced the guilty plea entered today before Chief U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley. Assistant United States Attorneys S. Courter Shimeall, Peter K. Glenn-Applegate and David J. Twombly are representing the United States in this case.
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