In early December Edward Lawson pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with a $6.2 million fraudulent investment scheme.
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According to his plea, Lawson was the president of “Automated Revenue Creation LLC” and “Guaranteed Results Advertising, LLC” (collectively, GRA). GRA’s investment literature stated that it was in the business of providing advertising through “Narrow Cast television commercials,” purportedly consisting of advertising displayed on LCD television monitors located at convenience stores and gas station pumps.
From May 2006 to September 2008, Lawson made presentations to potential GRA investors at hotels in the Washington, D.C. metro area and at a GRA office in Rockville, Maryland. In the early stages of GRA, an investor who purchased a screen for $15,800 was guaranteed a monthly return over a 10 year period that began at $3,000 and escalated to approximately $30,000 after 15 months. Later in the scheme, an investor who purchased a screen for $23,800 was guaranteed a monthly return of $3,000 and escalated to approximately $15,000 after 12 months. In GRA’s final phase, an investor who purchased a screen for $89,800 was guaranteed a monthly return of $13,950 over a five or 10 year period.
Lawson made several misrepresentations in soliciting GRA investors, including that: Lawson had over 30 years experience as an entrepreneur; Lawson had invested approximately $1.5 million of his own money into GRA; at all times, the GRA screens were generating sufficient revenue to meet the revenue projections promised to investors; the screens were generating so much revenue that Lawson encouraged investors to reinvest their earnings rather than cash out; advertisers had provided checks representing payments to GRA, which Lawson distributed at investor meetings; and Lawson had issued payments to investors via checks, which bounced due to conditions beyond Lawson’s control.
As a result of the scheme, GRA received at least $6.2 million in investments from over 60 investors.
Lawson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million or twice the gain or loss associated with the offense, whichever is greater.
As part of his plea agreement, Lawson agrees to the entry of an order of restitution and forfeiture for the full amount of the victims’ losses, which will be determined prior to sentencing.
“Edward J. Lawson’s promises of ‘automatic revenue’ and ‘guaranteed results’ were entirely fraudulent,” said U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein. “Investors should be wary of investment
opportunities that seem too good to be true.”
“In financial fraud schemes the promoter eventually runs out of other people’s money and the scheme collapses like a house of cards,” said IRS Acting Special Agent In Charge Jeannine Hammett – Source.
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