Westerville Man Sentenced for Million Dollar Investment Fraud Scheme
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Mark Preston French, 42, of Westerville, Ohio was sentenced in U.S. District Court today to serve three months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $112,000 for defrauding an elderly client in a precious metals investment fraud.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio and Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Chief Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr.
French pleaded guilty in January 2016 to one count of wire fraud. According to court documents, French worked as a stockbroker between 1998 and 2013 and began investing in precious metals in 2008. An elderly woman from Greenville, Pa., who believed French was an investment advisor, was his client between 2000 and 2012.
In 2009, French advised his elderly client to open joint checking and savings accounts with him so he could purchase and sell precious metals on her behalf. French instructed his client to reinvest other securities she held by depositing funds totaling more than $1.3 million into these joint accounts. French used the funds to purchase gold and silver from Tulving Company in Newport Beach, Calif. but also embezzled $111,848.73 from the joint accounts.
In September 2012, the elderly client told French she wanted physical possession of her gold and silver, which French was storing in his Westerville home. Instead, French sold a majority of the precious metals back to Tulving Company, returning approximately $1 million back to his client but keeping part of the proceeds for himself. He also kept 11,942 ounces of silver purchased with his client’s funds, which was valued at more than $400,000.
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation by the FBI, as well as Deputy Criminal Chief Brenda Shoemaker, who represented the United States in this case.
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