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Press Release

Former Pentwater Area Timber Business Owner Faces Indictment For Wire Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

Trent William Witteveen Operated Titan Timber as a Ponzi-like Scheme from 2018 to January 2021

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten today announced that a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Trent William Witteveen, 39, of Montague, Michigan, with wire fraud.  Witteveen, formerly of Pentwater, Michigan, operated a timber harvesting business under the names “Titan Timber” and “Titans Timber LLC.”              

          “Hardworking people, who play by the rules and earn an honest day’s wage, should not see their savings wiped away by those who cheat and steal,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “Financial fraud is a serious problem and the schemes are endless. We’re committed to holding the most serious offenders accountable. We look forward to proving these allegations and doing all we can to help the victims.”

          If convicted of wire fraud, defendant faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison and will be ordered to pay restitution to his victims. 

          According to allegations in the indictment, between June 2018 and January 2021, Witteveen operated a Ponzi-like scheme involving his timber business that defrauded investors and others.  Witteveen routinely represented to investors that he secured timber harvesting rights from landowners and promised the investors a significant return if they provided the investment capital necessary to pay the landowner for such rights. In reality, on most occasions, no current contracts for timber harvesting existed because, unknown to the investors, Witteveen had already harvested timber from the landowner’s property at an earlier time.

          On other occasions, to obtain more investment capital from the investors, Witteveen misrepresented the true value of timber on a landowner’s property by purposely inflating the value to an amount higher than what he knew a sawmill would pay for the lumber after harvesting the timber. Witteveen also obtained cashier’s checks or money orders payable to the landowners and showed those checks to the investors to make his contract with the landowner appear genuine. In reality, no such contract existed, and Witteveen simply deposited those funds back into his own bank account. 

          After Witteveen obtained money from an investor, he used that investor’s money to repay all or some of what he owed to prior investors, or to repay the same investor with his or her money to give the appearance that he was actually paying the promised returns. This allowed Witteveen to perpetuate his scheme by causing investors to believe that they were likely to realize the promised returns and to continue to invest with him. During the period alleged in the indictment, Witteveen obtained over $2,000,000.00 from investors and used some of that money to pay his own personal expenses and fund his lifestyle.

          “Mr. Witteveen is alleged to have deceived his investors and taken advantage of their trust for personal gain over several years,” said Cheyvoryea Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “The FBI is committed to investigating and bringing to justice individuals who commit financial crimes and illegally profit from hard-working citizens. Put simply, if you engage in illegal behavior to satisfy your greed, your actions will lead to incarceration.”

          The FBI’s Grand Rapids Office is investigating this case and received assistance during the investigation from the Michigan State Police.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Stella is prosecuting the case.

          The charges in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.



Updated March 15, 2024

Financial Fraud