Westerville Man Charged with Defrauding Elderly Victim of $1.3 Million
COLUMBUS, OH—A federal grand jury in Columbus, Ohio has charged Mark Preston French, 40, of Westerville, Ohio, with scheming to defraud an elderly individual by advising the person to invest in gold and silver through him as an investment advisor, then keeping for himself money, gold, and silver from precious metals commodity transactions that were funded by the individual.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Field Division, announced the indictment returned yesterday.
The indictment alleges that French acted as a broker for the victim, who was a client at a time when French worked at Investors Security Company, Inc. French held himself out at an investment advisor for the elderly victim, who he advised to open with him joint bank accounts in their names so that French could receive funds for purchases of gold and silver. Once French opened to those joint bank accounts the elderly victim transferred money to the accounts so that French could use the money to invest in precious metals, including gold and silver. He also had the elderly victim agree not to tell people about their investment arrangement.
According to the indictment, after opening a joint checking account and a joint savings account with his victim, the defendant spent more than $1.3 million of the victim’s money to purchase gold and silver and have it delivered to French’s residence in Westerville. French thereafter used the funds in the joint accounts to buy and sell gold and silver, while keeping some of the gold and silver for himself at his residence, and some of the profit from the transactions in his own personal bank accounts.
French was charged in the indictment with five counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud, each crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison, as well as with five counts of interstate transportation securities taken by fraud and four counts of money laundering, each crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the investigation of this case by the FBI, and Assistant United States Attorney Dale Williams, who is prosecuting the case.
An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.