Ordered to Pay $12,227,920 in Restitution to Victims
SALT LAKE CITY – Edmund Edward Wilson, age 72, of St. George, Utah, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a real estate fraud scheme, will serve 108 months in federal prison followed by 36 months of supervised release. U.S. District Judge Dee Benson imposed the sentence Thursday afternoon in federal court. Wilson also must pay $12,227,920 in restitution to victims of the fraud scheme.
According to a sentencing memorandum filed by federal prosecutors, Wilson ran a real estate investment scheme from approximately 2005 until 2012. His fraud accelerated in 2009 when businesses were in desperate need for financing, and the economic collapse made such loans more difficult to obtain through traditional means. Wilson sought out individuals all over the country who were developing real estate projects, such as shopping malls or resorts.
Wilson represented to investors that his company could provide financing for real estate development projects for an advance fee of either $80,000 or $150,000 through a “substitution of collateral program.” Through this program, individuals would provide the fee, obtain financing for their projects within 30-60 days (in some cases hundreds of millions of dollars), and not have to repay the loan. In return, these individuals Wilson called “investors” would give Mr. Wilson a 30 percent stake in the development project.
When investors called Wilson to ask why they had not received funding for their projects within the time promised, Wilson falsely represented to investors that he needed additional money to cover various unforeseen fees and expenses, and that once these costs were paid, funds would be released for the development projects. Wilson failed to disclose to investors that he never provided any funding for any development project through his substitution of collateral program and that he used a significant portion of the advanced fees for his personal benefit.
Later in the scheme, Wilson falsely represented to investors who had already invested in his program and to new potential investors that he could arrange financing of their development projects through his wealthy partner in Asia known as “the General.” In exchange for an investment of $80,000 to $150,000, investors would receive a forgivable loan for their real estate development project. The loan would come from “the General” who had access to millions of dollars in U.S. currency set aside for investment projects in the United States.
Again, Wilson failed to disclose to investors that he had never provided any funding for any development project through his foreign investment program and that he used a significant portion of the advanced fees for his personal benefit.
For example, in the wire fraud count he pleaded guilty to, Wilson admitted that around September 2008, he told an investor identified as M.B.K. that if M.B.K. paid $150,000 into his foreign investment program, Wilson could obtain and provide $96,080,000 in financing within 30 days for M.B.K.’s real estate development project of a hotel and spa in Greenville, N.C. As a result of Wilson’s representations, M.B.K. wired $150,000 to Wilson. Wilson admitted he used a portion of the advanced fees M.B.K. paid for his own personal benefit, transferring $100,000 to another account that had nothing to do with his substitution of collateral program or foreign investment program.
“Mr. Wilson never funded a single real estate project. Every iteration of the story Mr. Wilson told was pure fabrication. The majority of funds received by Mr. Wilson were used to cover his personal expenses and expenses of his other businesses which operated at a significant loss. No funds were ever put in escrow as the loan agreements specified,” federal prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memorandum. Wilson declared bankruptcy in August 2012.
The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah and investigated by special agents of the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation.