Three men from New Jersey and another from Nevada have been arrested for allegedly defrauding two individual victims out of approximately $800,000 through an advance fee scheme, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced today.
Harold Mignott, 54, of Voorhees, New Jersey, James Adkins, 64, of Hillside, New Jersey, Jerrid Douglas, 43, of Freehold, New Jersey, and Roy Johannes Gillar, 44, of Las Vegas, are each charged by criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Mignott, Adkins, and Douglas were arrested this morning and made their initial court appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer in Newark federal Court. Gillar was arrested yesterday and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy J. Koppe in Las Vegas federal court. Gillar was detained. Mignott, Adkins, and Douglas were released on $200,000 unsecured bonds.
According to the complaint:
From March 2016 through June 2016, Mignott, Adkins, Douglas, and Gillar allegedly agreed to defraud an entity identified in the complaint as “Victim Company A” out of approximately $1 million.
As part of the scheme, the defendants fraudulently induced two individuals who ran Victim Company A to have Victim Company A enter a joint-venture agreement with their New Jersey-based shell company. The defendants falsely represented that their company could acquire and provide Victim Company A with a “standby letter of credit” backed by Mexican gold bonds.
A standby letter of credit is a guarantee of payment issued by a bank on behalf of a client that is used should the client fail to fulfill a contractual commitment with a third party.
Victim Company A wanted access to the standby letter of credit so it could purchase raw gold overseas and sell it to gold refineries. As part of the joint-venture agreement, Victim Company A agreed to pay the defendants $1 million for the bank fee associated with the standby letter of credit.
In order to cover up the scheme and convince the victims to approve transfer of the funds, the defendants made numerous verbal and written misrepresentations, including providing the victims with a phony letter from a major international bank saying that it was ready, willing, and able to provide a €1 billion standby letter of credit to the defendants’ shell company.
However, after Victim Company A transmitted $800,000 of the $1 million to the defendants, the defendants failed to provide Victim Company A with a standby letter of credit or anything of value.
Instead, the defendants misappropriated Victim Company A’s money for their personal use on items like luxury cars, expensive watches, mortgage payments on their personal residences, and large cash withdrawals.
At no time since March 2016 have the defendants or any company owned or operated by them provided anything of value to Victim Company A in exchange for Victim Company A’s $800,000. The defendants also have not returned any of the money to Victim Company A.
The conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation leading to the arrests.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of the U.S. Attorney’s Office General Crimes Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.