FORT WORTH, Texas – A north Texas man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of wire fraud in relation to an investment fraud scheme he operated since January 2007.
This indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas (NDTX). The case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Christopher Blackwell, 32, of Colleyville, Texas, was arrested in Phoenix, Ariz., earlier this month on a charge outlined in a related federal complaint filed in the NDTX. Blackwell remains in custody; a date has not yet been set for his arraignment in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth.
According to the indictment, Blackwell allegedly deceived investors by falsely telling them that he would invest their money in business ventures that would generate a high rate of return, and by fraudulently assuring them that the investments would involve little to no risk. He told investors that their money would be invested in specific business ventures. But when he received investors' money, instead of investing it he used most of it for his own personal benefit. On occasion, he used some of the funds from new investors to make small payments to earlier investors to convince them that their money was generating a profit. However, not all investors received payments from Blackwell, and many lost all the money they invested.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, more than 20 victims, suffering more than $4 million in losses as a result of Blackwell's scheme, have been identified. One investor, identified only by initials, lost all of the $325,000 he gave Blackwell to invest. In fact, after this investor wired the money as directed to Blackwell's accounts, agents obtained Blackwell's bank records and were able to determine that Blackwell didn't invest the money as promised. Instead, he used it for personal expenditures, including automatic teller machine withdrawals, dining and entertainment, luxury vehicle expenses, and payments to family and business associates.
In February 2011, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a complaint against Christopher Love Blackwell, AV Bar Reg Inc. and Millers A Game LLC, two entities he controls. The SEC complaint claimed that Blackwell enticed investors by telling them that his trading program would generate highly impressive, guaranteed returns of 25 to 30 percent per month with regularity. He falsely claimed these profits were possible because of his academic pedigree, including Master's and Ph.D. degrees acquired at a prestigious university in Spain (Blackwell holds no such degrees); his extensive experience as a trader (he has little, if any, such experience); and the know-how and connections he acquired while employed by Goldman Sachs and The Bank of Madrid (he never worked at either firm). In March 2011, the SEC and Blackwell and his entities entered into an agreed judgment.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.gov.
An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, each of the wire fraud counts carries a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could be ordered.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Stevenson Weimer is in charge of the prosecution.