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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Monday, October 30, 2017

Virginia Man Pleads Guilty To Fraud Charge

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y.-Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Michael Martin, 58, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys MaryEllen Kresse and Elizabeth R. Moellering, who are handling the case, stated that in March 2013, the defendant, operating as Capital Source Lending, LLC, agreed to work with co-defendant Christopher Venti, operating as Viewpoint Solutions Group and Secured Strategies LLC, on a fraudulent investment scheme involving multiple victims.

Victims who were interested in obtaining funding were solicited by Christopher Venti, and others. The solicitations involved false promises of, among other things, access to “blocked” bank accounts that purportedly contained the funds victims sought. Victims were required to make advance payments into escrow in order to establish the “blocked” bank accounts in their names. Victims were falsely and fraudulently told that the “blocked” bank accounts would contain 10 times the amount of funds placed in escrow, and would be accessible to the victims in approximately 30 days. The advance payments were to be released from escrow by the victim upon the victim’s confirmation that the “blocked” bank account had been established in the victim’s name.

Victims were given letters on bank letterhead that purported to confirm the existence of the “blocked” bank accounts. In reality, the defendant Martin, Venti, and others knew that the bank letters were fraudulent, and that the confirmation process established in the escrow agreements signed by the victims, was fraudulent. Pre-arranged numbers victims were instructed to call directed them to others involved in the scheme who falsely represented to victims that they worked at the respective bank and that they could confirm the existence of the claimed “blocked” bank account.

Defendant Martin and Venti attempted to obtain $1,240,000 from six individuals, two of whom sent the defendant and Venti a total of $300,000. Martin also admitted his involvement in two other fraudulent schemes, both involving false representations that Martin could obtain funding for the victims through the alleged “monetizing” of a bank instrument.  None of the defendant’s victims received the funds promised by the defendant.
Christopher Venti has been convicted for his involvement in this and other investment fraud schemes and is awaiting sentencing. 

Today’s plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen. 

Sentencing is scheduled for February 27, 2018, at 4:00 p.m., before Judge Wolford.

Updated October 31, 2017