A man who posed as an oil baron’s son to hire 17 private jets, rent $30,000-a-night luxury homes and buy five cars has been caught after failing to pay $76,000 to a jet firm.
Nicholas Bryant, 23, stole an estimated $1.5million and scammed at least 50 people in the elaborate scheme that involved booking goods and services and then sending fake payments through online payment platforms.
On November 9 Bryant pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and is now awaiting sentencing, where he faces up to 20 years in prison.
In his first time speaking out about his swindling spree, Bryant told The Daily Beast via text messages and a phone call from Lubbock County Detention Center the allegations against him ‘are pretty much true.’
‘I took private jets and stayed at the most expensive Airbnbs and hotels. Went deep sea fishing and toured everything that was possible,’ he said noting that he had a lot of remorse over his actions.
‘I bought and drove five different high-end cars. By far my most favorite trip was to [Turks] and Caicos.
‘I spent two weeks on the island from fishing to sailing yachts. I stayed in a $30,000-a-night house. It was amazing.’
Social media posts from the time depicted Bryant riding private jets stocked with vodka, enjoying steak dinners on yachts, and lounging in five-star hotel rooms.
The 26-year-old has admitted that between 2020 and 2021, he would use online platforms like QuickBooks to send payment confirmations without ever intending to pay up.
It would take days, however, before vendors and businesses would learn that Bryant had canceled that transaction before the money was sent through.
Nicholas Bryant, 23, stole an estimated $1.5million and scammed at least 50 people in the elaborate scheme
He was caught when a jet firm came after $76k that Bryant had owed them after a trip with his friends to Miami
By then, Bryant said he had already enjoyed the jet ride or the lavish excursion and vanished.
Bryant assumed various fake names and backgrounds to add legitimacy to his scheme.
Most of the time he would say that he ‘was the son [of an] oil tycoon.’
Bryant also convinced at least one company that he had a ‘secretary’ who was handling his finances and wiring the money, which turned out to be false.
‘I knew how to play the part,’ Bryant said.
Prosecutors say, Bryant took at least 17 private jet flights, stayed in numerous high-end hotels, spent half a day on a 90-foot yacht with friends where he demanded a steak and champagne dinner, and obtained five luxury cars worth $500,000.
Bryant also convinced a developer to start building a home with a pool and workshop worth $980,000 and never paid.
‘This defendant would be well on his way to becoming Lubbock’s Anna Delvey [Sorokin] or Frank Abagnale,’ U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham said in a statement about Bryant’s plea.
Bryant said that he thought it was ‘crazy they are comparing [him] to both’ Sorokin and Abagnale saying he has them beat.
‘My story might be more wild than theirs! I can almost guarantee it!,’ he said.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Texas declined to comment on the case, noting that Bryant’s sentencing was still pending. Bryant’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
In 2013, mrt reported that Bryant was arrested on a forgery of a financial instrument charge. It was not clear what became of the case.
By 2019 Bryant appeared to have run into money troubles. Lubbock Judge Jim Hansen, who is the Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1, told The Daily Beast that during that year his office received at least two cases in connection with Bryant, an eviction and debt case from the Texas Tech Federal Credit Union.
The 26-year-old admitted that between 2020 and 2021, he would use online platforms like QuickBooks to send payment confirmations without ever intending to pay up
That July, the bank filed a debt claim noting that Bryant had a ‘negative checking account’ and was seeking damages of about $571.86. The case was eventually dismissed.
A few months later on October 24 2019 Bryant’s luxury apartment complex filed an eviction proceeding against him for ‘failing to pay first month’s rent’ and owing more than $1,400.
Hanson ruled in the apartment’s favor, ordering that Bryant leave the unit and pay back ‘costs in the amount of $116.00, back rent in the amount of $1494.53, with interest at the rate of 5.25 percent compounded annually.’
By the end of 2019, Eggemeyer said that he returned home and was looking for work during the off-season—and reached out to Bryant about potentially working with him in the oil industry.
Bryant has shown some remorse in regard to his friend Hayden Eggemeyer who he admits was a victim of his crimes.
While he did not go into detail about the scam, Bryant said that Eggemeyer ‘worked’ for him while he was ‘running an oil company’ that has made part of the ‘federal paperwork [he] plead guilty [to].’
The company, however, ‘came to a halt when numerous workers and service companies did not get payment [sic] and investors did not get returns.’
‘I was pocketing all proceeds and using [them] to fund my lavish lifestyle,’ Bryant said.
‘I was 23 making around 60k a month.’
Bryant said the scheme began in January 2020, when he and a friend were spending a Thursday evening at a Topgolf in Dallas, when the pair agreed that ‘playing a round of golf in Scottsdale’ would be way more fun.
He started calling charter companies and was surprised when they were able to fly to Arizona soon after.
‘We did the trip no problem and when I asked how I am going to pay for it, [the sales representative] said I could wire the money,’ he said, noting he ‘just Googled third-party wire transfers’ and learned that these systems would send over confirmation payments that he later learned could cancel.
The delayed payment confirmations, he said, was how he was able to ‘get away with it for so long.’
But he said that he was constantly hounded by private jet companies when they realized that he did not pay.
‘I would just stop taking their calls. I just went crazy,’ he said.
On November 9 Bryant pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and is now awaiting sentencing, where he faces up to 20 years in prison
Bryant got arrested in March 2020 on similar state charges in Texas and was eventually released on bail on a $150,000 bond. But that did not stop him from continuing the scheme.
He said that he used the lavish getaways to escape the realities of what he had been doing.
‘I was living life,’ he said.
‘I was spending 50, 70, $100,000 dollars a day at the peak. I was so far deep into it it didn’t really matter.’
Eventually, however, prosecutors say Bryant’s scheme came crashing down after one private jet trip to Miami on November 18, 2021.
‘Bryant represented that he was interested in buying an airplane of the type the company chartered, and wanted a ‘demo flight’ to make the final determination,’ a November 1 factual resume states.
The flight was scheduled from Lubbock to Houston and on to Miami and back – costing $33,000, but an extra $5,000 was added to the bill ‘to cover alcoholic beverages inflight and limousine transportation with whatever remained to be retained as a ‘tip’ per Bryant,’ prosecutors said.
‘The invoice for the return flights mirrored the initiating flight’s invoice for a grand total of $76,000,’ court document state.
Prosecutors did not go into detail in court papers about how they eventually nabbed Bryant, the only charge against the 26-year-old are connected to a November 2021 private jet trip.
Bryant noted that his biggest mistake on the November 2021 trip was using the same private charter company for his return flight back to Texas.
Bryant was arrested the next month, when he said he was at a car dealership attempting to buy an Audi and a Maserati.
‘In that moment, I kind of felt some relief because I knew it was over,’ he added.
‘Towards the end of it, it was all looking over my shoulder.’
He has remained in custody since his December 2021 arrest, a time that Bryant said has given him time to ‘think about how fast everything happened and how big everything got.’
‘It was fun, but I definitely do regret it. A lot of these companies are good, hard-working people,’ he said.
‘They built these companies up and it’s hard to take a $100,000 loss. And I did that to 50 people.’
‘It’s definitely weird to look at pictures and think wow I was just living in the moment.’
‘The serious consequences had zero impression on me.’