Chesterfield Man Convicted of Defrauding Military Personnel and Their Dependents
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 03, 2013|
RICHMOND, VA—Vernon Matthews, 42, of Chesterfield, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341. Matthews faces a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release when he is sentenced by United States District Judge Henry E. Hudson on December 6, 2013.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Jeffrey C. Mazanec, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office; and United States Postal Inspection Service Richmond Inspector in Charge Keith Fixel made the announcement.
In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Matthews admitted to operating First Capital Group (FCG), located at 4624 Pembroke Boulevard, Suite 102, Virginia Beach, Virginia. He solicited United States Military personnel and their dependents to make investments with FCG, with misrepresentations about how the investment funds would be used, the security of the investments, and the promised amount of returns, which he represented ranged from four to 300 percent. The defendant also misrepresented his affiliation with reputable investment companies and funds, including HB Group and American Funds. In connection with his guilty plea, Matthews admitted that he did not have any relationship with HB Group or American Funds, and no investor funds were provided to either of those companies or any other investment-type company. Instead, the defendant misappropriated the investors’ money, causing it to be used for the defendant’s own personal use and benefit to the investors’ detriment.
The charged mail fraud centered around the defendant’s acts in defrauding investor A.G., a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who was attending medical school. Through various communications, Matthews led A.G. to believe her investment money would be transferred to a mutual fund with a guaranteed 7.27 percent rate of return. That promised return was later revised to a higher amount (10 to 12 percent), provided A.G. invested additional money with the defendant. A.G., in turn, invested the following amounts with FCG: $20,000 (December 21, 2010); $3,500 (May 18, 2012); and $6,000 (October 20, 2012). Although Matthews had promised that these funds would be put in an investment fund, he did not transfer any of A.G.’s money to that promised destination. When A.G. later tried to withdraw her investment funds, the defendant delayed returning her funds and later mailed her a refund check in the amount of $32,328.55. Upon receipt of the mailing, A.G. attempted to cash the check but it bounced.
Overall, from about July 2010 until about May 2013, Matthews received over $235,600 in funds from the victim investors. The defendant did not invest any of the money as promised and used the overwhelming majority of the funds for his own benefit.
The investigation was jointly coordinated by the Richmond office of the FBI and the Richmond office of the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorney Michael Gill is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
This investigation has been coordinated by the Virginia Financial and Securities Fraud Task Force, an unprecedented partnership between criminal investigators and civil regulators to investigate and prosecute complex financial fraud cases in the nation and in Virginia. The task force is comprised of several federal and state agencies, including the Virginia Attorney General’s Office. The task force is an investigative arm of the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), an interagency national task force.
The FFETF was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants, including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae.