The Chicago Syndicate: Multimillion Dollar Sports Betting Pyramid Scheme In Las Vegas Busted #OnlyVegas

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Multimillion Dollar Sports Betting Pyramid Scheme In Las Vegas Busted #OnlyVegas

Two Las Vegas residents made their initial court appearances in U.S. District Court for charges in connection with a multimillion dollar investment fraud scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich of the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse of the FBI.

A federal grand jury returned a 14 count indictment, charging John Frank Thomas III, 75, and Thomas Joseph Becker, 72, both of Las Vegas, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 13 counts of wire fraud. Thomas is also known as “John Frank,” “Johnathan West,” “John Frank Rodgers,” “John Marshall,” and “John Edwards.” Following their arrests, Thomas and Becker made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy J. Koppe, who scheduled a jury trial for January 4, 2021.

“Nevada has earned a worldwide reputation as the gold standard in gaming integrity,” said U.S. Attorney Trutanich. “Our office will continue working with our law enforcement partners and the gaming industry, including the FBI, to maintain Nevada’s reputation — which reflects the efforts of hardworking Nevadans across our state — by investigating and prosecuting violations of the law, and by helping enhance compliance programs.”

According to allegations in the indictment, from September 2010 to August 2019, Thomas and Becker maintained — and advertised to investors as supposed investment funds — the following entities: Sports Psychometrics; Vegas Basketball Club; Vegas Football Club; Einstein Sports Advisory; Quantum Sports Advisory; Wellington Sports Club; and Welscorp, Inc. Thomas and Becker made false representations to investors that they would use their sports betting skills and strategy to make sports bets with the investors’ money:

  • For example, Thomas and Becker told investors that their “‘special insights’ and ahead-of-the-curve strategies… can generate an Average-Profit-Per-Bet of +140% per $100 bet… and possibly as high as +180% or plus $180 per $100 bet. In essence, unlimited riches.” 
  • Similarly, they advertised a “perfect investment opportunity,” offering “quick access to funds – funds that can be withdrawn by wire or transfer in only one day” and “exceptionally high yield – we achieved a +10.75% ROI per betting day during 2014 Football Season.”

Thomas and Becker also allegedly misrepresented to investors that their accounts were multiplying in value due to successful sports betting, when in fact no such betting occurred. And when investors tried to cash out their investments, Thomas and Becker ignored their calls and emails, and made various excuses for why they could not distribute the money, ranging from purported medical reasons to issues with banks and sportsbooks. To the extent any investors were paid out, those payments came from money deposited by other investors, rather than successful sports bets.

Thomas and Becker induced more than 600 individuals to deposit money —from less than $10,000 to over $500,000 — into their purported investment funds, for a total of at least $29 million. The estimated loss amount to investors is alleged to be at least $9 million dollars. Thomas and Becker spent investors’ funds on personal expenses, including dining, housing, home improvement, and transportation.

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