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Man Disguised Himself As Jewish Businessman To Scam $96 Million

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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A Louisiana businessman was indicted Thursday on several charges of fraud for disguising himself as an Orthodox Jewish businessman and scamming investors out of $96 million.

U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced the indictment of David D. deBerardinis, of Shreveport, La., on four charges of wire fraud and one charge of attempted bank fraud, according to the Associated Press. DeBerardinis ran a fraud scheme from 2008 to 2016 by posing as a petroleum businessman, using fake news articles, false identities, and fabricated bank statements to dupe others into investing millions of dollars into his fraudulent petroleum trade and transport business.

The indictment alleges that deBerardinis used various elaborate means to trick investors into investing in his business with the promise of “a guaranteed return of their principal” and interest payments. His means included claiming that he had an international shipping license vetted by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, and using a makeup artist to disguise himself as an Orthodox Jewish businessman to get money from an equity group in New York.

The indictment also alleges that he used “computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices and caused others to use computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices in ways that perpetuated the illusion of legitimate business functions and activities involving the purchase, sale and transport of fuel,” among many other forms of chicanery. DeBerardinis had his investors sign nondisclosure agreements “to lull investors into conducting minimal due diligence and to control the flow of information.”

An investor from Dublin, Ireland sued deBerardinis and his business in February 2017 after deBerardinis failed to pay back an investment of $2.5 million and promised interest totaling $250,000. DeBerardinis had promised this investor that he would receive said money within 60 days of depositing his investment.

Henri LeJeune, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said that deBerardinis will not be arrested, but that a summons will be issued for his appearance in court, according to Shreveport Times. DeBerardinis faces a maximum of 20 years imprisonment for the wire fraud charges and 30 years for the bank fraud.

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