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Hamburg man who fled country sentenced for wire fraud

STAFF REPORTS

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Michael Wilson, 31, formerly of Hamburg, NY, who was convicted of wire fraud, was sentenced to 108 months in prison by Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott S. Allen Jr., who handled the criminal case, and Richard D. Kaufman, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Asset Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Unit, stated that Wilson defrauded investors out of more than $10,000,000 between June 2008 and July 2010. The defendant created several fraudulent investment companies known collectively as “New Frontier,” including such names as “Phantom Holdings” and others, all purportedly located at 6553 Boston State Road in Hamburg, adjacent to his residence. Wilson thereafter induced individuals and companies to invest in financial instruments with complex sounding names, such as “leveraging agreements,” that promised high-yield earnings and returns.

Rather than investing clients’ money, the defendant spent it on a variety of personal items, including $2,500,000 for a down payment for Boston State Road properties, automobiles - including a Hummer, a Corvette, two Land Rovers, and a Mercedes ML 500 - artwork, and other items. In addition, in January 2009, Wilson paid $1,800 to hire an actor from a talent agency to portray a person using the name of his alias “George Possiodis,” which name and persona the defendant used during his scheme.

As part of his sentence, a judgement in the amount of $5,617,750.00 has been entered against him. This will allow the government to forfeit the proceeds of his fraudulent activities along with any interest he has in several bank accounts in Canada, Singapore, and the Grenadines. The defendant also forfeited his interest in two condominiums in downtown Toronto, a bank account in Singapore containing over $60,000, as well as $50,000 in lieu of two villas he had built in Vietnam.  Early on in the investigation, the Government seized and forfeited Wilson’s luxury automobiles and expensive artwork. In 2017, four accounts, which contained approximately $950,000, at the Euro Pacific Bank were forfeited by Judge Skretny.  Finally, Wilson transferred ownership to the Government of several computers and smart phones he used in his fraudulent investment schemes.  The government plans to use all of the forfeited proceeds towards victim restitution.

Wilson, a dual citizen of Canada, traveled to the Toronto area after learning he was under investigation. After being arrested in Canada in July 2013, Wilson was released on conditions and challenged extradition to the United States in Canadian Courts. Before his final appearance in Canadian Court, in February 2016, Wilson chartered a private jet and flew to Vietnam with his wife, mother, and three dogs. Wilson was arrested in Vietnam in June 2016, and returned to the United States in December 2016.

“Despite his efforts to flee and to hide, Michael Wilson was ultimately unable to outrun or escape his criminal past,” said U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Although his fraud and dishonesty gave him temporary possession of luxury items, including residences around the globe, fancy cars, and expensive works of art, the one thing that he will be able to hold onto the longest will be the bars of his jail cell. Fortunately, through the tremendous work of this Office and our law enforcement partners, we were able to forfeit significant assets, which will be used to help to make restitution to the victims of Wilson’s crimes. Hopefully, today’s lengthy sentence, combined with the forfeiture of Wilson’s ill-gotten gains will help to send the message that truly ‘crime does not pay,’ thereby deterring others from ever engaging in similar conduct.”

"By the time Michael Wilson was 21 years old, he was comfortable stealing money from people, and he was good at it," said FBI Buffalo Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin P. Lyons. "When he realized his investment schemes were unraveling he became even better at trying to hide that stolen money -- and himself -- in multiple countries across the globe. Today, almost 10 years later, Michael Wilson found out the real cost of his crimes. The FBI is committed to protecting American citizens and pursing criminals wherever they try to hide."

The sentencing the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Kevin P. Lyons, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office, James D. Robnett; Toronto Police Service; Vietnam Ministry of Public Security; and other law enforcement partners, including LEGAT, Seoul, Korea, and the U.S. State Department.