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May 27, 2016Tampa, FL, United StatesFinancial Crimes

4 individuals sentenced for international fraud, money laundering scheme involving sale of gold

TAMPA, Fla. – Four individuals were sentenced Tuesday for conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and mail fraud. The case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Secret Service, with assistance from the City of London Police, Spanish National Police, and U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Michael Skillern, 49, of Houston, Texas, received 10 years imprisonment, Jon Craig Nelson, 69, Houston, Texas, received eight years imprisonment, Naadir Cassim, 40, of Barcelona, Spain, and Orlando received five years imprisonment, and Adriana Maria Camargo, a/k/a Adriana Palomino, 37, of Barcelona, Spain, received two years imprisonment. The Court also ordered Cassim and Camargo to pay a money judgment of approximately $3.3 million, and for Nelson and Skillern to pay a money judgment of approximately $7.3 million; the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.

“The dismantling of this transnational criminal organization is the result of international law enforcement agencies working together,” said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. “HSI will continue to leverage our unique international authority to protect victims and bring criminals to justice.”

According to the testimony and evidence presented at trial, from August 2011 through February 2014, the defendants and others engaged in a fraud scheme in which they directed and caused the sale of purported, but in fact nonexistent, gold ore or gold doré to victims located in the United Kingdom, the Middle District of Florida, and elsewhere around the world. The gold ore or doré was supposedly from mines in Nevada and Montana owned or controlled by the defendants through a company called OWN GOLD LLC. The conspirators then caused victims to wire their funds to bank accounts controlled by them. The conspirators used the victims' funds to perpetuate the scheme and for their own personal enrichment. Trial evidence established that approximately 440 victims wired over $7.3 million to the conspirators during the course of the fraud scheme. The defendants were convicted Feb. 3, 2016.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara C. Sweeney and Rachelle DesVaux Bedke, from the office of U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III, Middle District Florida.

Updated: 06/06/2016