Posted on: May 29, 2022, 08:05h.
Last updated on: May 29, 2022, 08:05h.
A 42-year-old man was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday for allegedly defrauding more than a dozen investors in a complex swindle. The six-year scheme raised over $1 million. Some of the money was spent gambling at casinos, prosecutors said.
Sean T. Johnson, also known as Shawn Johnson, who last resided in Dallas, was sentenced by federal District Court Judge Richard J. Leon in Washington, DC.
After the prison term, Johnson will be placed on supervised release for four years.
Investors Lost Life Savings
Johnson must also pay restitution to victims of the scheme. Most victims lost their life savings, ruined their credit score, and went into foreclosure or bankruptcy because of the fraud, prosecutors said.
The plot took place between September 2012 and October 2018. Johnson was arrested in October 2018. He has been in custody since his apprehension.
In 2019, Johnson pled guilty to one count each of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Based on a federal inquiry, prosecutors allege Johnson misled victims into investing into non-existent entities. Johnson also lied about relationships with celebrities, his net worth, and other things to encourage the investments, according to a statement from Washington, DC US Attorney Matthew M. Graves.
In addition to spending the proceeds in casinos, Johnson used the money to purchase luxury automobiles, designer clothes, drinks at nightclubs, and tickets to sporting events, Graves said.
Sales Pitch Tailored to Investor
Johnson also allegedly posed as a wealthy investor and successful businessman, the statement adds. Johnson varied his approach depending on the personality, gender, and lifestyle of the victim, Graves said. But there were some similarities in his sales pitch.
The scam almost always began with the defendant flashing money near the victim, name-dropping celebrity friends who were investors in his ventures, talking up his business acumen, and offering to help his friends become wealthy, like him,” Graves claimed in the statement.
To convince the investors, Johnson wore expensive designer clothes, bragged about his wealth, and claimed he owned expensive houses, prosecutors said.
He even came up with “promissory notes” that detailed investments. He allegedly promised to pay back the amount listed in the promissory notes.
The FBI’s Washington, DC field office and statements by victims of the swindle were key in convicting Johnson, Graves said.