The City of London Police, the task-force that also polices financial fraud in the U.K., today announced that four American fraudsters have been jailed in connection with a gold scam that conned hundreds of British citizens, after a multi-year and multi-jurisdictional investigation linked over 100 people to a boiler room operation in Spain.
James Mancuso, Attaché of the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) mission at the U.S. Embassy in London, said in an official statement: “We received extraordinary support from the City of London Police and we share this success with them.”
Their contributions helped us to dismantle this fraud scheme and hold those responsible to account. These results highlight the value of HSI’s bilateral efforts and our commitment to our international partners.
Spain-based scam and operation Rico
In 2014, over 110 suspected fraudsters were arrested in connection with the case, which included boiler-rooms spread across Europe. During this time, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) had arrested Jon Nelson and Michael Skillern in Houston, Texas, and on the same day, Adriana Camargo and Naadir Cassim were arrested in Barcelona.
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The sentencing took place in Tampa, Florida, this Wednesday in the US, where Adriana Camargo, Naadir Cassim, Jon Nelson, and Michael Skillern were sentenced to a total of 25 years after been found guilty of conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and mail fraud offences that led to the convictions and resulting jail time.
In addition, Cassim, Nelson and Skillern were convicted of wire fraud, and Cassim was also convicted of illegal monetary transactions. Cassim, age 40, was sentenced to five years, Nelson, age 69, will be jailed for 8 years, and Skillern, age 49, got the longest sentencing at 10 years. Camargo, age 37, was sentenced for 2 years, as per the update.
Fabricated gold scheme
The investigation, led by multiple US and European enforcement agencies, revealed that the Spain-based boiler room was set up by four fraudsters and had its operatives aggressively cold-call and sell a scheme named Own Gold LLC which purported to offer huge amounts of gold that would be mined out of Nevada as part of the scam tactic.
However, these offers were merely fabricated to raise more than $7 million that four defendants used for themselves and to perpetuate the boiler-room scam.
Mr. Mancuso added in the official statement: “Their contributions helped us to dismantle this fraud scheme and hold those responsible to account. These results highlight the value of HSI’s bilateral efforts and our commitment to our international partners.”
Acting Detective Inspector John Ellis, who leads the Operation Rico investigation team for the City of London Police, added in the statement: “The imprisonment of these individuals shows how international law enforcement can work together to dismantle investment frauds that continue to target U.K. citizens.”
“It also reinforces the importance of people in this country being extremely cautious about investing their money in schemes where the first approach comes from a cold-caller promising high returns. Ideally they simply would not engage at all and just hang-up the phone.”