Houston area man arrested for $1.2M nationwide telemarketing scheme
HOUSTON – A 46-year-old man has been arrested for participating in a telemarketing scheme that scammed over 100 individuals and received over $1 million in fraudulently collected funds, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Law enforcement took Michael K. Laurendeau into custody this morning. Formerly of Pearland and now residing in Houston, he is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam S. Sheldon today at 2 p.m.
According to the 15-count indictment returned May 4 and unsealed today upon his arrest, Laurendeau is the owner of E-Business Financial LLC and Blue Star Hosting LLC.
From January 2015 to August 2019, Laurendeau and co-conspirators allegedly deceived over 134 victims by convincing them they were entitled to unclaimed money from prior investments in websites or webpage domains. Laurendeau and others told them they had to pay fees or taxes via certified checks or money orders to Laurendeau’s businesses to receive their money, according to the allegations.
Laurendeau and co-conspirators allegedly used aliases such as Richard Phelps, Ian Sharpe, Kelly Fisher and Mary Benson to victimize people who lived all over the country, many of whom were over the age of 55.
The indictment further alleges none of the victims ever received any funds from this scheme. Additionally, Laurendeau convinced many of the victims to send in additional checks after the victims did not receive any return on their first payments, according to the charges.
As a result of their scheme, Laurendeau and others allegedly received over $1.2 million. The indictment alleges the money was then spent on trips, dinners, a car and other goods.
Laurendeau is charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and 14 counts of mail fraud. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine on each count.
The Pearland Police Department and the FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Wakefield is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.