Bay Area Man Who Defrauded Website Investors Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Running $1.2 Million Scam
LOS ANGELES—A Northern California man who defrauded 18 victims by selling website domains that he falsely claimed would generate substantial advertising revenue was sentenced today to 120 months in federal prison.
John Winston Boone, 51, of Novato, was sentenced by United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II, who called the defendant’s conduct “cruel and callous.”
In addition to the 10-year prison term, Judge Wright ordered Boone to pay $1,219,138 in restitution to the victims, who reside across the United States and in Canada.
During today’s hearing, Judge Wright said Boone “showed a lack of humanity that so base and so depraved.”
Boone pleaded guilty in November 2013 to two counts of wire fraud, admitting that he engaged in a five-year-long fraud scheme that targeted victims who wanted to own online businesses that would allow them to work from home.
Boone offered the websites for sale in advertisements he placed on popular business websites, such as Bizquest.com and BizBen.com. When prospective buyers responded to his ads, Boone sent them phony financial records that falsely showed the websites had generated advertising revenue in the past. As part of his scheme, Boone lied about his employment background and falsely promised to provide training and other assistance in setting up the websites. After the victims paid money, Boone failed to provide any training or other support he promised, and the websites, with one small exception, never generated any income. When victims discovered the scam, Boone ceased all contact with them and he never returned their money.
Boone is a “financial predator, a master manipulator and a pathological liar who will do or say anything to steal money from his victims,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo filed with the court. Prosecutors also cited Boone’s callous conduct, describing how he defrauded one victim knowing he was disabled, and defrauded another victim knowing he had large medical bills to pay.
Boone displayed predatory conduct, according to the government’s sentencing papers. After a victim sued him for return of her $60,000 down payment, Boone counter-sued her for the full amount of the $100,000 bogus contract and won, and then harassed her for payment with the knowledge that she suffered from panic attacks.
“For 30 years, nothing has deterred him – not criminal investigation or prosecution, not civil judgments, and not distraught victims,” according to prosecutors, who described the defendant as “extraordinarily charismatic and manipulative, while lacking any conscience.”
The case against Boone was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.