A former Hamburg man is facing a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for defrauding investors out of more than $10 million in just two years.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says Michael Wilson, 30, pleaded guilty to wire fraud Tuesday before Senior U.S. District Judge William Skretny.
Prosecutors argued Wilson created several phony investment companies - known collectively as “New Frontier,” including such names as “Phantom Holdings” and others - all supposedly located at 6553 Boston State Rd. in Hamburg, next to his home.
Between June 2008 and July 2010, Wilson then enticed individuals and companies to invest, promising high-yield earnings and returns. Rather than investing his clients’ money, Wilson lived the high life, buying properties in the United States, Canada and Vietnam; automobiles; artwork and other items.
After about six months, authorities say Wilson paid an actor to portray him using his alias George Possiodis.
Wilson has dual citizenship in the United States and Canada. Authorities said he fled to the Toronto area after learning he was under investigation, where he was arrested in July 2013.
Wilson was released on conditions and challenged extradition to the United States in Canadian Courts. Before his final appearance in Canadian Court, he chartered a private jet and flew to Vietnam, where he was later arrested and returned to the United States.
“This defendant went to great lengths not only to perpetrate his fraud, but to avoid responsibility for his crime," said Acting U.S. Attorney James Kennedy. “Though he defrauded investor victims out of millions of dollars, at this point, no amount of money will enable the defendant to avoid the finish line. That finish will be a sentencing proceeding in federal district court."
As part of his plea agreement, Wilson will forfeit more than $5.6 million in proceeds from his scheme, interest he has in several overseas bank accounts, two condominiums in downtown Toronto, as well as two villas he had built in Vietnam.
Sentencing before Judge Skretny is scheduled for October.