More than $18 million was stolen in an investment fraud and money laundering conspiracy, and a federal jury in the Western District of Arkansas convicted four men Wednesday for their leading roles in the scheme.
“The defendants abused their positions of trust to entice victims into parting with more than $18 million,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. The defendants then used their expertise in finance to launder the money through a complex network of offshore accounts.
Those who would commit fraud against others for their own advantage should take this case as a warning that they will be tracked down, prosecuted, and ultimately found guilty.
From at least 2013 to 2021, John C. Nock, 55, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, Brian Brittsan, 67, of San Marcos, California, Kevin Griffith, 67, of Orem, Utah, and Alexander Ituma, 57, of Lehi, Utah, conspired to engage in an investment fraud scheme through an entity known as “The Brittingham Group,” which Nock founded, according to court documents and evidence presented at trial.
Collectively, the four accused parties misrepresented the nature of their investment offerings and guaranteed excessive returns that they neither could nor did provide. Nock and Brittsan, in an effort to further and cover up the conspiracy, instructed the victims to wire their money to accounts held by Griffith, Ituma, and other conspirators. After obtaining the funds, the defendants distributed them amongst themselves via a complicated network of offshore bank accounts.
Simply put, these four people were involved in a fraudulent scam. In order to con investors out of almost $18 million, “they falsely represented the nature of their business and lied about potential investment returns,” said IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Chief Jim Lee. “I commend the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, which prosecuted the case, and our special agents and partners at the FBI, who uncovered the complex web of financial transactions that led to the defendants’ convictions yesterday.”
Criminals who perpetrate financial crimes will hear a loud and clear warning from this verdict. According to Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, “a single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors millions of dollars.” The FBI wants to stress the importance of doing one’s homework before putting money into anything. The FBI is committed to working together with other law enforcement agencies to bring those responsible for breaking the law and betraying the public’s trust to justice.
Each defendant was found guilty of money laundering conspiracy, wire fraud, and wire fraud by the jury. Each count against the defendants carries a potential sentence of 20 years. Nock was also found guilty by the jury of money laundering; he might spend up to 10 years in jail for this crime. There is currently no scheduled date for sentence. Sentences will be decided by a federal district court judge, who will take into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory criteria.
The case was looked into by the IRS-CI and the FBI. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas, led by David Clay Fowlkes, was of great help.
Prosecutors from the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, consisting of Trial Attorneys Philip Trout, Vasanth Sridharan, and Sara A. Hallmark, are in charge of this case.