David deBerardinis, 56, was indicted on fraud charges on Thursday in Shreveport, Louisiana
A man hired a professional makeup artist and disguised himself as an Orthodox Jewish businessman during a long-running scheme to scam investors and banks out of more than $96 million, according to a federal indictment.
David D. deBerardinis, 56, was indicted on four counts of wire fraud and one count of attempted bank fraud by a federal grand jury on Thursday in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Prosecutors said his fraud scheme began in 2008 and lasted until at least July 2016, with deBerardinis representing himself as a businessman in the petroleum industry.
He allegedly tricked investors into handing over cash using false identities, phony bank statements and even bogus news articles touting his business achievements.
In 2013, deBerardinis allegedly used a makeup artist and disguise as an Orthodox Jew to get more investor funds from an unidentified equity group based in New York. the 10-page indictment does not offer further details on the incident.
On Tuesday, federal agents raided this Shreveport building, where multiple businesses connected to deBerardinis are registered (file photo)
The indictment says deBerardinis represented himself as a businessman involved in the sale, trade and transport of fuel and falsely claimed he had an international shippers’ license that had to be vetted by the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
DeBerardinis assumed false identities and pretended to be actual company executives in communicating with investors to lend credence to nonexistent contracts and business relationships, the indictment says.
He solicited investments in his business in exchange for interest payments ‘and a guaranteed return of their principal,’ the document says.
Citizens National Bank, Origin Bank and PlainsCapital Bank were among the financial institutions that lent money to deBerardinis’ businesses, according to the indictment.
DeBerardinis is accused of scamming $96million from lenders and investors
The FBI, US Secret Service and the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.
On Tuesday, sheriff’s deputies in Caddo Parish guarded several office buildings connected with a web of deBerardinis’ shell companies, as FBI and Secret Service agents raided the properties, the Shreveport Times reported.
If convicted, deBerardinis faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud counts and 30 years for the attempted bank fraud count. He also faces a $1 million fine on each count, plus restitution and forfeiture, prosecutors said in a statement.
A Baton Rouge-based attorney for deBerardinis didn’t immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.
An investor from Dublin, Ireland, sued deBerardinis and one of his businesses, Financial Resources LLC, last February.
The federal suit says the man was duped into investing $2.5million in return for a promise he would be repaid and receive an additional interest payment of $250,000 within 60 days. The suit says the investor hadn’t recovered any of his money when he sued.