TAMPA – A Canadian citizen was sentenced to 10 years and 1 month in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud Thursday. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, with assistance provided by the Royal Thai Police. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in securing the defendant’s extradition from Thailand.
“With Homeland Security and IRS special agents working together, this unique investigation showcases the power of combined federal agencies to topple a global financial fraud. Foreign victims and the American public can rest a little easier tonight,” stated Special Agent in Charge Brian Payne of IRS Criminal Investigation. “When crooks endeavor to rip off just one victim, they also damage the consumer confidence of us all. We take our role as the world’s finest financial investigators very seriously because we realize prosecuting financial crime is vital to maintaining trust in our economy.”
The court also ordered Nesbitt to forfeit various assets, and entered a money judgment of $500,000, representing the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct. In addition, Nesbitt was ordered to pay $14,511,754.05 in restitution to the victims. Nesbitt had pleaded guilty in February 2020.
According to court documents, Brooks Thomas Nesbitt, 37, of Ontario, Canada, was a member of a large, international fraud and money-laundering ring, led by Mary Kathryn Marr. Between at least 2014 and 2019, Nesbitt operated boiler rooms located outside of the United States. He set up the boiler rooms, recruited their sales agents and other employees, and oversaw their operations. Nesbitt contracted with Marr so that, for a set percentage, she and her network could launder the fraud proceeds his boiler rooms had obtained from victims. Marr also worked with Nesbitt to directly contact and defraud certain victims. Once the victims’ funds had been laundered through Marr’s network of bank accounts in the United States, Marr would arrange for most of the funds to be sent back to Nesbitt and his boiler room employees overseas.
Mary Kathryn Marr was charged separately, along with her co-conspirator, Michel Marc Chateau. Both Marr and Chateau contracted with various international boiler rooms to launder fraud proceeds that they had obtained from foreign victims, primarily by selling worthless investments. Marr and her co-conspirators employed a mass marketing scam in which high-pressure sales techniques originating out of so-called “boiler rooms” were used to defraud individuals who believed that they were investing substantial amounts of money in regulated financial products or markets, particularly shares of stocks. In reality, however, the investments were a sham and the victims received nothing. The majority of the victims that Marr and her co-conspirators targeted were located in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and countries in Asia.
Marr and Chateau operated a network of funnel bank accounts in the United States in the names of shell companies, into which the boiler room agents instructed victims to send their money. The victims’ funds were then laundered through more bank accounts and sent overseas, with the launderers receiving a percentage of funds that they moved. Marr and Chateau recruited various individuals to open and operate funnel bank accounts in Florida and other states.
In total, Nesbitt, Marr, and their co-conspirators unlawfully obtained approximately $14.5 million from victims through various boiler room fraud schemes. On January 31, 2019, Thai authorities provisionally arrested Nesbitt at his residence in Hua Hin, Thailand. Nesbitt was subsequently extradited to the United States for prosecution.
The case was prosecuted by the office of United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez, Middle District Florida, Assistant United States Attorney Patrick Scruggs.