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Financial Crimes
08/09/2012

Houston lawyer sentenced for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in corporate identity theft scheme

TAMPA, Fla. — A Houston lawyer was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and 36 months of home confinement Thursday, Aug. 9. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tampa and the U.S. Secret Service's Tampa and Newark, N.J., field offices.

According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, from February 2005 through July 2006, Roger Shoss, 67, of Houston, and codefendant Nicolette Loisel, also a Houston lawyer, conspired to steal the identities of dormant, publicly-traded companies. They then used the corporate identities they had stolen to create fraudulent, empty-shell companies that had the appearance of being publicly traded. They subsequently sold the fraudulent empty-shell companies for a profit. The four companies featured in the indictment were Mobilestream Inc., Regaltech Inc., Nanoforce Inc. and Rocky Mountain Gold Mining Inc., which emanated from 3E International Inc., Pacific Chemical Inc., Webgalaxy Inc. and Greensmart Corporation, respectively.

The administrative and money laundering functions of this scheme were headquartered in Pinellas County, Fla. Multiple wire transfers, totaling at least $800,000, were initiated from the Middle District of Florida to Shoss, in payment for the companies. Shoss, in turn, paid Loisel more than $450,000 for her role in the scheme.

"These individuals – both attorneys – conspired to make a profit through a sophisticated investment fraud and money laundering scheme," said Sue McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. "HSI works closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute con-artists like Shoss and Loisel."

In addition to his prison sentence, Shoss is required to pay a final forfeiture money judgment, in the amount of $800,000. This amount represents proceeds obtained by Shoss and Loisel as a result of their criminal activities. A final order of forfeiture was also entered for Shoss' residence in Houston, which was purchased with proceeds traceable to the wire fraud conspiracy. 

"The U.S. Secret Service and HSI continually strive to enhance our law enforcement partnership by leveraging our respective capabilities, expertise and manpower in support of our distinct law enforcement missions," said John Joyce, U.S. Secret Service's Tampa special agent in charge. "The U.S. Secret Service and HSI will continue to effectively investigate, deter and diminish the threat posed by various types of criminals to our nation's financial infrastructure."

A federal jury found Shoss and Loisel guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud on May 22. Loisel's sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 4.