8 Utahns charged with participating in $100 million supplements scam

8 Utahns and a person Washington resident have been indicted by a federal grand jury and accused of acquiring $100 million value of credit and debit card purchases by means of a scheme that included the sale of nutraceutical, CBD and nutritional supplements. (Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE Town — 8 Utahns and a single Washington resident have been indicted by a federal grand jury and accused of obtaining $100 million worth of credit score and debit card buys by means of a scheme that associated the sale of nutraceutical, CBD and dietary dietary supplements.

The U.S. Attorney’s Workplace of Utah declared Wednesday that the defendants are:

  • April Gren Bawden, 36, of Salt Lake County
  • Chad Austin Bawden, 43, of Salt Lake County
  • Phillip Gannuscia, 52, of Salt Lake County and Puerto Rico
  • Makaio Lyman Crisler, 39, of Utah County
  • Barbara Jo Jackson, 69, of Utah County
  • Brent Goldburn Knudson, 42, of Utah County
  • Richard Scott Nemrow, 42, of Utah County
  • Dustin Garr, 44, of Washington County
  • Robert McKinley, 45, of Spokane, Washington

The defendants are accused of committing 18 counts of criminal exercise from at least January 2016 via April 2022, which include conspiracy to commit wire fraud conspiracy to commit financial institution fraud conspiracy to commit income laundering wire fraud aggravated id theft and revenue laundering aiding and abetting, in accordance to a statement from federal prosecutors.

The plan associated the sale of nutraceutical, CBD and nutritional supplements as a result of a variety of sites and a call center running in Utah, according to the indictment. Advertisements promised added benefits this sort of as pounds loss and the therapy of seizures and cancers, included untrue claims about their efficiency, and employed wrong celebrity endorsements. Consumers were being also misled about the rate of items and the ability to return things or obtain refunds, the indictment states.

All product sales demanded the buyer to give a credit history or debit card. Customers ended up then enrolled in month to month subscriptions “without their knowledge or consent,” billed a lot more than the marketed costs, and upsold on other merchandise when seeking get refunds, the indictment alleges.

“The misleading and fraudulent techniques also resulted in numerous million dollars of chargebacks thanks to consumers disputing a demand as unauthorized or fraudulent,” the indictment states.

To facilitate “tens of 1000’s” of deceptive online revenue, the defendants are accused of setting up hundreds of web-sites and restricted liability companies, hundreds of organization examining accounts and hundreds of merchant processing accounts in the names of some others but which they controlled. They recruited and paid out individuals referred to in the indictment as “straw proprietors” for the use of their particular information, in accordance to the indictment.

These straw proprietors ended up paid out nominal quantities, usually $250 to $350 a month, as lengthy as their service provider accounts remained open up but they experienced tiny to no knowledge of the firms, according to prosecutors.

The defendants applied the proceeds from the scheme to purchase things this sort of as a Lamborghini Urus, a 2020 Porsche 911 convertible and a 2021 Nautique Paragon boat, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office environment. They also acquired households and paid for beauty operation, the indictment states.

“In addition to the hundreds of thousands of bucks benefiting the defendants, far more than $64 million of the scheme proceeds were transferred abroad,” the indictment says.

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