U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Georgia
(404) 581-6000
October 7, 2015

Villa Rica Man Indicted in Million-Dollar Advance Fee Fraud Scheme

ATLANTA—James Thomas has been arraigned on federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering arising from an alleged advance fee fraud scheme involving $1.7 million. Thomas was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 15, 2015.

“This defendant is charged with operating a sophisticated advance fee scheme that took advantage of individuals and businesses who had limited options for financing real estate deals after the recession of 2008,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn. “This case shows that consumers and small businesses must be careful about those with whom they enter business relationships, and should research beyond the information on websites.”

“It is our sincere hope that today’s federal grand jury indictment will give the many victims involved in this matter assurance that their case will be heard. The FBI will continue to provide significant resources toward investigating and presenting for prosecution those individuals engaged in such wide spread fraud as is alleged in this case,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: Between 2008 and 2011, Thomas portrayed his firm, Trilateral Capital and Development LLC (“Trilateral”), as a reputable and well established private equity company that had successfully loaned millions of dollars for real estate development projects. Trilateral’s website and marketing materials contained fraudulent misrepresentations about the firm’s past real estate deals. Thomas also misrepresented Trilateral’s finances and on least one occasion e-mailed a fraudulent bank statement purporting to show that Trilateral had over $1.6 million in one account.

Through this scheme, more than 20 individuals and companies from across the country and overseas provided Thomas with more than $1.7 million in advance fees for real estate loans that Thomas never provided. The indictment alleges that Thomas used the advance fees to pay himself and employees, take vacations, fund other business ventures and make charitable contributions.

James Thomas, 44, of Villa Rica, Ga., was arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey Brown is prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.Presse-mails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

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